U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Electricity Monthly Update
With Data for February 2015 | Release Date: April 27, 2015 | Next Release Date: May 26, 2015
Electric Power Sector Coal Stocks: February 2015
In February, U.S. coal stockpiles fell to 150 million tons, down 3% from the previous month. Declining coal stockpiles are a normal pattern most years from January to February as coal-fired generators meet winter electricity demand. The month-to-month stockpile change differed by coal type and reflected the large weather variance between the eastern and western U.S. Bituminous coal stocks, largely burned in eastern power plants, fell 8% in February as nearly every state in this region experienced one of its coldest Februarys on record. Subbituminous coal stocks, largely (but not entirely) burned in western power plants, actually increased during the month as most states there experienced one of their warmest February's on record. Total stockpiles this year are significantly higher (25%) than last February, when a combination of high electricity demand and limited coal deliveries caused a large drawdown in coal stockpiles. The stockpile levels at a handful of plants in the Midwest last winter off of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad dropped to just a few days of burn. This problem seems to have been resolved this winter, as conservative operating plans and higher levels of coal deliveries by BNSF has restored stocks at those plants to more normal levels.
Days of burn
The average number of days of burn held at electric power plants is a forward looking estimate of coal supply given a power plant's current stockpile and past consumption patterns. Days of burn patterns differed widely between bituminous and subbituminous units during the month of February. For bituminous units largely located in the eastern U.S., extremely cold weather caused a decline from 81 days to 79 days of forward looking days of burn estimates. For subbituminous units largely located in the western U.S., extremely warm weather contributed to a sharp increase in forward looking days of burn estimates, from 69 days of burn in January to 77 days in February. The percentage of bituminous and subbituminous coal-fired capacity having less than 30 days of burn increased slightly in February to 7.5% from 4% in January. This is a much lower percentage than last February, however, when over 21% of units had less than 30 days of burn.
Coal stocks and average number of days of burn for non-lignite coal by region (electric power sector)
|February 2015||February 2014||January 2015|
|Zone||Coal||Stocks (1000 tons)||Days of Burn||Stocks (1000 tons)||Days of Burn||% Change of Stocks||Stocks (1000 tons)||Days of Burn||% Change of Stocks|
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
NOTE: Stockpile levels shown above reflect a sample of electric power sector plants, which were used to create the days of burn statistics. These levels will not equal total electric power sector stockpile levels.