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Coal reclaims top spot in U.S. electric generation in May

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — After being eclipsed by natural gas as the top fuel source for U.S. electric generation in April, coal regained its top spot in the generation mix for May.

Citing recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, business research firm SNL Energy reported this week that coal accounted for 32.6 percent of electricity generated in the United States in May, compared to 31.4 percent from natural gas.

In April, for the first time ever, natural gas surpassed coal for the largest share of U.S. electric generation at 31.5 percent.

“We’re pleased that it came back to what it was before April,” Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said. “We think what occurred in April is there were a number of coal plants that were apparently down for maintenance or were underutilized because of being down for maintenance.

“We hope we’re going to continue to be a huge part of the energy picture and think we will be, because coal is reliable and dependable and, of course, low-cost.”

Charlie Burd, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, said he wants to see a thriving coal industry in the state and expressed hope that both fuels will play a big part in fueling the U.S. electric grid moving forward.

“West Virginia is blessed to have abundant amounts of coal and clean-burning natural gas, so from an energy perspective, West Virginia is certainly in a position to be able to provide a fuel source for our nation’s power production,” Burd said. “I don’t think there’s any question both fuels are going to have a position in the production of electricity for this country.”

While monthly data varies, the underlying market forces that have led to natural gas taking an increased share of U.S. electric generation remain, according to Eric Bowen, a research associate with the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research…

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