Coal-fired power plants have faced challenges on multiple fronts of late. First the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency implemented a new set of emissions rules that heavily impact coal-fired generators. Then coal's primary competitor, natural gas, experienced a major glut on the U.S. market, pushing down the price of the fuel to its lowest level in a decade.
With these trends expected to continue in the near term, the EIA projects that coal-fired generation will decline 10 percent in 2012 from the year before. Natural gas, meanwhile, could rise as much as 17 percent.
The industry could see some recovery in 2013, when natural gas prices are expected to pick back up and declining demand pushes down coal prices, but growth is only expected to amount to around 7 percent.
However, production and exports are both also expected to fall, potentially limiting the decline in prices.