Natural gas generation was up in September, EIA reports

Almost all regions of the country experienced an increase in natural gas-fueled generation in September 2012 compared to September 2011, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Nov. 21.

Texas was the outlier, however. That’s because Texas experienced above average temperatures in September 2011, while in 2012, Texas experienced average temperatures during the month.

Gas-fired, combined-cycle units continue to provide more electricity generation primarily at the expense of coal-fired power units. This trend was most pronounced in the West, Southeast, and Central regions, EIA said.

In addition, average wholesale electricity prices stayed below $50/MWh for most of September, although prices exceeded $60/MWh in Texas at the beginning of the month. Likewise, the price jump was also evident in the Mid-Atlantic and New York City, EIA reported on its website.

Compared to September 2011, the average cost of electricity fell or stayed the same in most states located east of the Mississippi. The exceptions were Alabama, West Virginia, and North Carolina, where the average cost of electricity increased by 1.5%, 3.4%, and 4%, respectively. Revenues per kilowatthour (KWh) also increased in most states from the northern plains west.

The largest year-over-year increases in average cost occurred in California and Idaho, where revenues per KWh increased 12.9% and 17.3%, respectively. The largest decline occurred in Louisiana, where average cost decreased 13.2% from September 2011.

Net generation in the United States decreased 1% in September 2012 compared to September 2011, while population-weighted cooling degree days in the lower 48 states declined 0.5% over the same period.

After reaching a low of $2.03/mmBtu in April 2012, the price of Henry Hub natural gas has increased by over 46% to $2.96 in September, EIA said.

In September 2012, total coal stocks increased 1.9% from the previous month as the continental United States comes out of the summer months. However, total coal stocks remained at relatively high levels in September 2012, as the relatively cheap price of natural gas reduced coals share of electricity production.

In September 2012, total bituminous supply remained flat from the previous month at 91 days of burn. Total subbituminous supply increased slightly, from 75 days of burn in August 2012 to 77 days of burn in September 2012.

However, because coal consumption patterns are significantly different than past years, the actual days of burn held at electric power plants is likely higher than this metric, which is based on past consumption patterns.

 

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.