WASHINGTON D.C.: U.S. power companies are increasing their coal consumption due to surging natural gas prices, dealing a blow to the environmental movement.
Early this week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said the production of coal-based energy is expected to surge by 22 percent in 2021, marking the first annual increase in the use of coal since 2014.
This comes after coal-fired power plants in the U.S. reduced their generating capacity by one-third since 2010.
In recent years, utilities stopped using coal because of concerns about climate change and the abundance of low-priced natural gas, with coal consumption dropping in 2019 for the sixth consecutive year to its lowest level since 1964.
But the recent increases in natural gas prices have made coal more competitive.
Coal power generation is rising this year because of "significantly higher natural gas prices and relatively stable coal prices," officials stated, adding that the delivered cost of natural gas to U.S. power plants averaged $4.93 per million British thermal units this year, more than double last year's figure.