Big Share of '95 Fuel Mix
For the second year in a row, natural gas fueled an increasing share of U.S. electric generation. When the final numbers are tabulated for 1995, electric generation is expected to have increased about 2.7 percent over the previous year. This compares to a 0.98-percent increase for the 1993-1994 period. Gas accounted for over 10 percent of the 1995 utility fuel mix (em up from 8.8 percent just two years ago. And for perhaps the first time in history, coal burn by utilities should remain flat despite robust growth in electric generation.
The fuel mix winners of 1995 were nuclear, hydro, and natural gas. Gas benefited primarily from decreasing prices, while the increase in nuclear output can be attributed to improved performance and more timely maintenance and refueling schedules.
Until the mid-December surge in gas prices (em driven by cold temperatures that triggered supply constraints in the Northeast (em prices for natural gas had steadily declined since February 1994. After reaching 273 ¢/MMBtu two years ago, average delivered gas prices continued to decline by more than 32 percent, bottoming out at 180 ¢/MMBtu in September. Over the same 18 months, oil prices remained relatively flat, averaging over 254 ¢/MMBtu in September.
During the first three quarters of 1995, gas-fired generation was running 25.4 billion kilowatt-hours (bKwh) higher than in the same period in 1994. Gas-fired generation increased most in the South Atlantic (up 12.2 bKwh), displacing oil