Coal

Yearly electric generation data was recently updated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, with electric generation using coal continuing to decrease in 2017.

According to the data, between 2007 and 2017, coal-fired electric generation declined by more than 40 percent, with utility-scale capacity for coal-fired electric generation dropping by nearly 18 percent.

Natural gas electric generation outpaced coal in 2016 and 2017, with that form of electric production increasing by over 44 percent since 2007, and the capacity of natural gas utility-scale electric capacity increasing 16 percent during that time period.

Though still a fraction of the electric generation capacity of coal and natural gas, renewable electric generation continues to grow.

Between 2007 and 2017, conventional hydroelectric generation increased by 21.3 percent, outpacing a 2.45 percent capacity growth.

In 2017, utility-scale electric generation using solar came in at 53 million megawatt hours.

While that figure represents only a little over 4 percent of the amount of electricity generated by coal and natural gas each, the figure also represents a whopping 8,606 percent increase in the amount of utility-grade electric generated by solar since 2007.

What’s more is the fact that the capacity of solar to produce utility-grade electricity increased by 68,589 percent between 2007 and 2017.

Utility capacity from wind is still more than triple than that of solar, and increased 430 percent between 2007 and 2017.

Overall, the amount of coal the nation used for electric generation decreased by more than 36 percent between 2007 and 2017, with the amount of natural gas being used increasing by more than 34 percent.

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Whether through regulations or the natural shift to cleaner energy, emissions are down.

According to the data from the EIA, between 2007 and 2017, carbon dioxide emissions decreased by more than 26 percent, with emissions of sulfur dioxide declining over 81 percent and emission of nitrogen oxides declining by over 57 percent.

Emissions may also be down because Americans are using less energy.

According to the data, even though the number of residential utility customers in the nation increased by 6.96 percent between 2007 and 2017, actual residential electric use was down nearly a percent in those years.

That same trend can be seen in industrial customers, which grew at a 5.86 percent rate during those years. That sector decreased its electric consumption by 4.23 percent.

The commercial sector, which grew at a 5.65 percent rate, was the only customer base that increased its electric consumption at a rate of 1.27 percent.

Though overall electric consumption has declined, the revenue coming into electric generators has not.

According to the data, revenues from residential electric sales increased 19.8 percent across the nation between 2007 and 2017, with commercial electric revenues increasing 11.91 percent, and industrial revenues increasing just over 3 percent.

That growth in revenue is tied to an increase in the average national price of electric.

On the residential side, prices increased by over 21 percent between 2007 and 2017, with commercial prices increasing 10.46 percent and industrial electric prices increasing 7.66 percent.

— Email mcombs@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @mattcombsRH

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