U.S. sees less power generated in August 2013 compared to prior year

Net generation in the United States decreased 3% in August 2013 compared to August 2012, EIA said Oct. 24 in its Electricity Monthly Update.

While weather was the chief reason for the dip in generation output, natural gas generation decreased because of its August 2013 price relative to coal, EIA said.

The overall decrease in electricity generation occurred because August 2012 was warmer than August 2013. The Northeast region experienced the largest percentage drop in electricity generation, as temperatures were much warmer in August 2012 compared to August 2013.

The only two regions that saw increases in electricity generation compared to last August were Texas and Florida, EIA said.

In August 2013, all regions of the country saw a year-over-year decrease in natural gas generation. This decrease in electricity generation from natural gas was mainly a result of the rise in natural gas prices that occurred over the past year.

The change in coal generation was much more varied, as the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Florida all saw decreases in coal generation, while the Central, West, and Texas all saw increases in coal generation compared to the previous year, EIA said.

In August 2013, the price of Henry Hub natural gas decreased 5.1% from $3.73/MMBtu the previous month to $3.54/MMBtu. The natural gas price for New York City (Transco Zone 6 NY) decreased from the previous month, going from $4.08/MMBtu in July 2013 to $3.58/MMBtu in August 2013. The price of Central Appalachian coal also decreased, going from $2.86/MMBtu in July 2013 to $2.78/MMBtu in August 2013.

In August 2013, total coal stocks decreased 3% percent from the previous month. This decrease in month-to-month coal stocks follows the normal seasonal pattern where generation from coal is needed to meet increased demand for electricity during the summer months. Compared to last August, coal stocks decreased 12.2%. This occurred because coal stocks in August 2012 were at an extremely high level.

Wind power increased in all regions from August 2012 to August 2013, with Texas, the West, and Central seeing the largest absolute increases in wind generation. These increases in wind energy are mainly due to increased wind capacity compared to last year. August is one of the few months during the year where other fossil (fuel oil) generators produce electricity due to high demand for electricity.

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.