EIA: Electricity Generation Up as Production Costs Slide

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By Editors of Power Engineering

A new short-term energy outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates total utility-scale electricity production will reach 11.2 terawatthours in 2016, up 0.2 percent from 2015.

Additionally, total utility-scale production should grow even faster in 2017 with an expected increase of 0.5 percent.

Power production costs fell for the second straight year. Coal slipped from $2.23 per million Btu in 2015 to $2.22 per million Btu, and natural gas fell from $3.22 per million Btu to $2.94 per million Btu.

That trend is expected to reverse in 2017, as coal is projected to rise to $2.22 and natural gas to $3.67.

Though both natural gas and coal each supplied 33 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2015, natural gas will reach 34 percent this year and coal will fall to 31 percent. Next year natural gas will fall to 33 percent with coal remaining steady at 31 percent, due to rising natural gas prices.

Nonhydropower renewables are forecast to generate eight percent of total electricity generation in 2016 and nine percent in 2017. Nuclear and hydropower are expected to remain unchanged. 

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