What coal’s decline looks like in Connecticut and across the nation

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Soon, coal will no longer be the top fuel used to generate electric power in the U.S.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration in its Short Term Energy Outlook projects that natural gas will eclipse coal in 2016.

“For decades, coal has been the dominant energy source for generating electricity in the United States. EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) is now forecasting that 2016 will be the first year that natural gas-fired generation exceeds coal generation in the United States on an annual basis,” wrote Tyler Hodge in the EIA’s blog Today in Energy. “Natural gas generation first surpassed coal generation on a monthly basis in April 2015, and the generation shares for coal and natural gas were nearly identical in 2015, each providing about one-third of all electricity generation.”

In Connecticut, where coal has long played a smaller roll in electric power generation, the fuel’s decline has been more precipitous, and in coming years it will drop off the chart altogether. The last coal-fired power plant in the state, located in Bridgeport, is slated to close in 2021 and be replaced with a natural gas facility.

Unlike the rest of the nation, more Connecticut electricity has been generated using natural gas than coal for at least the past 15 years, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Out of 75 Connecticut power plants tracked by the EIA, 29 are powered by natural gas, 19 by distillate fuels (diesel, fuel oils no. 1, 2 and 4) and 15 by water (hydroelectric). Other fuel sources of Connecticut electric power include nuclear, solar, wood-based products and even jet fuel.

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