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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for May 2015  |  Release Date: July 27, 2015  |  Next Release Date: August 25, 2015

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Electric Power Sector Coal Stocks: May 2015

 



In May, U.S. coal stockpiles increased to 175 million tons, up 4% from the previous month. This increase in April-to-May coal stockpiles follows the normal spring pattern where coal stockpiles are usually built up for use in the summer months. The spring build-up of coal stock piles started early this year, as the country experienced significantly above-average temperatures during the previous month, which led to a decreased demand for heating during March 2015 and thus, a decreased need for electricity generation. Coal has also lost market share to natural gas in all regions of the country.

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. For bituminous units largely located in the eastern United States, the average number of days of burn declined from 76 days to 74 days of forward-looking days of burn estimates. For subbituminous units largely located in the western United States, the average number of days of burn decreased, going from 77 days in April to 71 days in May. The percentage of bituminous and subbituminous coal-fired capacity having less than 30 days of burn remained relatively flat, going from 5.6% in April to 5.3% in May. This is a much lower percentage than last May, when over 16% 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)

  May 2015   May 2014   April 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
Northeast Bituminous 6,638 84   4,978 53 33.4% 6,085 81 9.1%
  Subbituminous 797 242   410 60 94.5% 795 262 0.3%
South Bituminous 34,920 72   30,658 59 13.9% 33,827 76 3.2%
  Subbituminous 7,066 75   6,028 57 17.2% 6,927 79 2.0%
Midwest Bituminous 15,723 73   12,097 53 30.0% 14,853 73 5.9%
  Subbituminous 40,938 64   31,615 48 29.5% 39,109 70 4.7%
West Bituminous 6,698 74   6,158 67 8.8% 6,458 75 3.7%
  Subbituminous 35,008 80   21,879 50 60.0% 34,745 86 0.8%
U.S. Total Bituminous 63,980 74   53,891 58 18.7% 61,223 76 4.5%
  Subbituminous 83,809 71   59,932 49 39.8% 81,575 77 2.7%

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.

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