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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for November 2014  |  Release Date: Jan. 27, 2015  |  Next Release Date: Feb. 26, 2015

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Electric Power Sector Coal Stocks: November 2014

 



In November, total U.S. coal stockpiles increased by 4%, or just over 5.5 million tons, to 142 million tons. The increase in coal stockpiles this month follows the normal pattern of building stocks during a shoulder month before winter. During Fall 2014, the magnitude of the increase, one of the largest in many years, was a welcome sign given the concern expressed this year in regards to low stockpile levels. In the Midwest, stockpiles at many coal-fired generators were rapidly depleted last winter as a result of increased electricity demand and rail delivery problems. This caused some power plant operators to take conservation measures by lowering output or idling units, buying replacement power on the wholesale market, and re-routing deliveries from one plant to another in order to manage stockpiles. Railroad operator BNSF has also been called on to increase coal deliveries to power plants, as this problem has centered on subbituminous coal deliveries from the Powder River Basin across BNSF rail lines.

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. The total days of burn at bituminous units decreased from the previous month, going from 78 days in October to 76 days in November. The days of burn at subbituminous units increased from 49 to 51 days of burn, on average, though these numbers remain below last November. The percentage of bituminous and subbituminous coal-fired capacity having less than 30 days of burn fell from 12.5% to 11% and the capacity with 30 to 60 days of burn increased from just under 39% to just above 40% in November.

Coal stocks and average number of days of burn for non-lignite coal by region (electric power sector)

  November 2014   November 2013   October 2014  
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 7,001 81   6,634 72 5.5% 7,061 88 -0.8%
  Subbituminous 427 83   340 54 25.7% 439 106 -2.7%
South Bituminous 33,718 84   39,610 93 -14.9% 33,203 86 1.5%
  Subbituminous 5,497 60   5,789 62 -5.1% 5,285 55 4.0%
Midwest Bituminous 13,685 65   13,052 61 4.8% 12,968 67 5.5%
  Subbituminous 29,935 47   34,246 53 -12.6% 28,319 47 5.7%
West Bituminous 5,543 62   6,681 74 -17.0% 5,381 60 3.0%
  Subbituminous 22,725 55   26,909 65 -15.6% 19,992 50 13.7%
U.S. Total Bituminous 59,947 76   65,978 80 -9.1% 58,613 78 2.3%
  Subbituminous 58,583 51   67,284 58 -12.9% 54,035 49 8.4%

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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