Coal Less Important Than Ever to American Energy Generation

A common misconception about coal in America is that it accounts for most of the nation’s electricity generation.

Coal’s importance to the nation’s energy mix is indisputable. But that influence is on the decline, and is dropping fast. Even so, the new data has yet to be embraced by politicians intent on reinforcing Kentucky’s coal industry.

Here’s Western Kentucky state Representative Brent Yonts at a recent public hearing in Frankfort.

“Coal produces 94% of the electricity in the state of Kentucky,” he said. “It produces 51% of the electricity in these United States.”

But according to the most recent data from the Energy Information Administration, due to a warm winter and low natural gas prices, coal produced only 34 percent of the nation’s energy in March. That’s the lowest it’s been since at least January, 1973—when the government first began keeping records. Coal hasn’t generated more than half of the nation’s energy for several years.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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