Natural gas consumption hits record high

Data from the U.S. Department of Energy shows the nation's energy sector used a record amount of natural gas-fired generation this past February, reports Reuters.

Consumption from natural gas power plants rose 34 percent from a year before in February, as prices lingered at a 10-year low and many utilities began to switch away from coal-fired generation in response to tightening environmental standards.

Through April 10 of this year, the gas-fired power plants consumed an average of  5 billion cubic feet per day more than over the same period last year, Arun Jayaram from Credit Suisse told the news source. Even Southern Company, which traditionally has relied on coal-fired power plants more than most utilities, saw coal fall below natural gas consumption.

"For the first time since the 1970s, we’ve seen coal’s share of energy production fall below 40 percent," said David Herr, head of Duff & Phelps. "[Two years ago] coal was sitting at 50 percent, where it had been for the last decade."

While the natural gas prices have lingered at low levels, Dow Jones Newswires reports rising demand and slowing production has helped to push futures upward.

Reports on natural gas prices can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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