Coal Low

DC PSC RFP Technical Consultant for Formal Case (FC) No. 1156

As in April 2018, coal plants produced 24.3 percent of the U.S. grid's power this March, the Energy Dept. reported just before Memorial Day weekend.

Which was very nearly the historical low. Coal plants have only produced less than a quarter of the grid's power in four months. April 2018 and March 2019 as well as March and April 2016.

The record low percent was in March 2016. That was when coal plants produced just 23.7 percent.

The record low in megawatt-hours was in April 2016. In that month, coal plants produced just 72.1 million megawatt-hours. How low is that? From the record high this century, in August 2007, that's a 62.1 percent drop. Ok, that's a lot.

DC PSC RFP Technical Consultant for Formal Case (FC) No. 1156

Coal plants this March produced 78.5 million megawatt-hours. This was low enough and nuclear plant production was high enough in March that nuclear came as close as ever to taking over second place among the grid's resources (with natural gas plants in first place). Coal had a 24.3 percent share and nuclear had 20.1 percent.

Will nuclear soon surpass coal? Or perhaps the question should be, when will nuclear surpass coal?

Talk about the racing cars passing each other on the track, look what happened to wind farms and hydro dams. Wind had an 8.1 percent share this March and hydro had 7.9 percent. Gone are the days when hydro regularly placed fourth among the grid's resources (behind coal, natural gas and nuclear).

And solar? Well, March is never going to be the best month of the year for solar. This March, the total of all solar production - from the grid's solar and from residential, commercial and industrial customer solar - was only around one-third of the grid's wind production.