Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Natural gas catches up with coal in America

The AES Corporation 495-megawatt Alamitos natural gas-fired power station stands on October 1, 2009 in Long Beach, California.
The AES Corporation 495-megawatt Alamitos natural gas-fired power station stands on October 1, 2009 in Long Beach, California. David McNew/Getty Images

There’s nothing quite like the first time. That’s the sentiment behind last week’s announcement by the U.S. Energy Information Association that the amount of electricity being generated by natural gas is in a dead-heat with the amount derived from coal.

As reported by Treehugger, April data shows that natural gas plants generated 32 percent of the nation’s power, the same share produced by coal plants. That’s 95.9 million megawatthours from natural gas, compared to 96.0 megawatthours from coal.

According to the EIA, natural gas was able to catch up due to prices being at a 10-year low in April and reduced demand for electricity thanks to a mild winter (and spring). The EPA also recently imposed new rules limiting emissions of mercury, chromium and more. Another far more controversial reason behind the natural gas boom is the hydraulic drilling process of “fracking.”

The same EPA report said that with the increased electricity demands due to air conditioning use over the summer, numbers for coal and natural gas will likely both go up.

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