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A Look at Natural Gas–fired Electricity Generation in 2017

Posted: July 31, 2017

This year, July 20th reached its highest daily level of natural gas used for electricity generation.
Courtesy: US EIA www.eia.gov

Courtesy: US EIA www.eia.gov

Despite the week of July 20th being the highest daily use of natural gas for electricity generation at 41 billion cubic feet (Bcf), natural gas-fired electricity generation (also known as power burn) so far this summer is below last year’s level.

While power burn averaged a 7% decrease from April 1 to July 25 this year compared to last year’s consumption, this is relatively high when compared to the past five year average for the same period of time.

The cost of natural gas relative to last summer can explain part of the decrease. Natural gas prices were higher than last year, while coal prices were about the same in 2017 as in 2016.

2016 was the first year that natural gas electricity generated exceeded coal-fired generation. For the first four months of 2017, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that coal provided 30% of the utility-scale electricity generation versus natural gas at 28%. EIA’s short-term energy outlook expects coal and natural gas to generate about 31% of the electricity in the US. For the calendar year 2017, EIA forecasts the power burn average will be 25.9 Bcf/d, which is about 9% lower than the 2016 year.