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US gas-fired power generation sees 20% YOY jump in January at coal's expense

Coal provided the lion's share of U.S. electricity during a frigid January even as electricity generated from natural gas jumped nearly 20% year over year to narrow the gap in market share between the two fuels.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest "Electric Power Monthly" released March 23, utility-scale generation net of hydroelectric pumped storage increased 9.3% year over year in January to 373.8 million MWh.

Over the same period, gas-fired generation climbed 19.9% to 109.6 million MWh, accounting for 29.3% of the net total. Meanwhile, coal-fired generation increased 2.8% versus the prior-year period to 118.7 million MWh, to account for 31.8% of the nation's electricity.

Renewable output climbed 8.5% year over year to 62.5 million MWh as growth among renewable resources was mixed.

In January 2017, coal had a 7.1% advantage over natural gas in generation market share.

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Power-sector coal stockpiles fell by 13.7 million tons during the month, above the 10-year average draw of 5.7 million tons. During the prior 10 years, January stockpile fluctuations versus the prior month have ranged from a draw of 14.2 million tons to a build of 7.7 million tons.

The EIA estimates that the January stockpile level of 123.5 million tons translates to 90 days of burn and 108 days of burn, respectively, for bituminous and sub-bituminous coal, 3.7% and 33.3% above the five-year averages for the month.

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