Curtis Tate Published

Coal Slips Below 17 Percent Of Nation’s Electric Power In First Quarter

Steam and emissions rise from the tall stacks and cooling towers of the John Amos power plant against overcast skies next to the muddy water of the Kanawha River.
The John Amos power plant in Putnam County.
Curtis Tate/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The nation got the lowest amount of electricity on record from coal in the first three months of the year.

Coal’s power market share fell below 17 percent in January, February and March, down 25 percent from the first quarter of last year.

That’s according to an analysis of U.S. Energy Information Administration data by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Renewables, meanwhile, accounted for 22.5 percent of the nation’s electricity in the first quarter, including wind, solar and hydroelectric.

In PJM, the 13-state region that includes West Virginia, coal’s share dropped to 15 percent. As recently as a decade ago, coal produced 40 percent of PJM’s electricity.

Coal’s decline wasn’t limited to PJM. Its usage fell in every region of the country.

The federal agency has projected coal’s share for the full year to be 17 percent.