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Last week the EIA reported that natural gas-fired power generation will increase by as much as 17% in 2012, while coal is expected to decrease 10%. This shift away from coal and toward natural gas is largely tied to gas’ low price, as well as projections of the impacts of increasingly strict federal regulation on power plants. In March, natural gas spot prices averaged $2.18MMBtu, their lowest level since 1999. Then on April 11th, the NYMEX May gas futures contract settled at a 10-year low of $1.984/MMBtu [EIA]. Despite low gas prices, some utilities express hesitancy about over-committing to gas-generated… [more]View Insight
Alpha Natural Resources, the nation’s third-largest coal producer, has announced that it will “close four mines in Kentucky and West Virginia and idle two more over the next 12 months.” [E&E ClimateWire (sub. req.)] 152 Alpha employees will lose their jobs, while another 182 will be offered reassignment. The coal industry has been challenged recently by low natural gas prices and new federal clean air regulations. These factors have compelled some electric utilities to close their coal-fired power plants, or to switch them to natural gas or other, cleaner coal sources. Utilities such as FirstEnergy, Duke Energy, and American Electric… [more]View Insight