For the first time since the federal government has begun collecting data, natural gas and coal produce virtually the same amount of the country’s electricity.
The Energy Information Administration just crunched its numbers for this past April, and preliminary data shows that both coal and natural gas make up about 32 percent of the country’s total electricity generation.
This was a bad season for all energy, because mild weather meant less heat was needed to warm homes and businesses. But natural gas also had record low prices, which helped it pull even.
And now that it’s reached equal footing with coal, natural gas is likely to keep increasing its share. By 2016, when new air pollution regulations go into effect, many plants are scheduled to complete a transition from coal to natural gas.
That’s happening even in Kentucky, where most of the state’s electricity comes from coal. But coal will likely retain the upper hand for the foreseeable future. After Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities retire several coal-fired plants and replace the generation with natural gas, 90 percent of the company’s fleet will still be coal powered. About eight or nine percent will be natural gas, with the remaining energy coming from hydropower.