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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for August 2014  |  Release Date: Oct. 24, 2014  |  Next Release Date: Nov. 25, 2014

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Highlights: August 2014

  • Wholesale electricity prices set 12-month lows in New England, New York City and the Mid-Atlantic, as natural gas prices fell below $2/MMBtu in the regions.
  • Total U.S. coal stocks decreased by 4.3 million tons compared to the previous month and are down 21.5% from August 2013.
  • Texas's (ERCOT) peak load reached 66.5 GW, just below its 68.4 all-time peak.

Key Indicators

  August 2014 % Change from August 2013
Total Net Generation
(Thousand MWh)
383,494 -0.1%
Residential Retail Price
13.01 4.0%
Retail Sales
(Thousand MWh)
348,014 -0.7%
Cooling Degree-Days 292 -1.7%
Natural Gas Price, Henry Hub
4.01 13.3%
Natural Gas Consumption
923,476 -0.6%
Coal Consumption
(Thousand Tons)
81,210 -0.9%
Coal Stocks
(Thousand Tons)
121,042 -21.5%
Nuclear Generation
(Thousand MWh)
71,129 -0.3%

Record solar output from utility-scale facilities due to photovoltaics in June 2014

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-923 "Power Plant Operations Report"

Electricity generation from solar facilities that are 1 megawatt or greater in capacity hit a record high in June 2014 at 2,061 gigawatthours largely because of the recent, rapid growth in photovoltaic capacity. Solar electricity output in June is a good indicator of the recent growth of the solar industry, because June has the highest monthly average of sunlight per day. Electricity output of U.S. utility-scale solar generators in June 2014 was 23 times the level in June 2005.

From 2005 through 2010, most solar generation from utility-scale facilities was from large solar thermal generators. In June 2005, generation from solar thermal units accounted for 97.9% of total utility-scale solar generation.

In 2011, photovoltaic generation grew at a much higher rate than the growth in thermal generation, even though solar thermal generation was up as well. The growth curve of total solar generation since 2011 is primarily shaped by photovoltaic generator growth. In 2013, the photovoltaic share was 86.1% of the total solar contribution to the grid. The photovoltaic share fell to 83.1% in June 2014 as a result of several large solar thermal plants including Ivanpah, Genesis, and Solana coming online. However, photovoltaic generation is still the biggest growth driver, as the total more than doubled from June 2013 to June 2014.

Most of the growth in U.S. solar output is in California. In June 2014, well over half of total solar generation came from plants in California. Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, and New Jersey, respectively, followed California as the largest solar contributors to the grid.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-923 "Power Plant Operations Report".

Solar capacity in the United States has grown at smaller units on residential and commercial rooftops and at other smaller facilities as reported by distribution utilities, which are typically net-metered (see April 2014 Electric Monthly Update report for further detail).

Generators, including solar units that are expected to come online soon, are shown on this map.

Principal Contributor:

Ronald Hankey

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