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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for January 2015  |  Release Date: March 27, 2015  |  Next Release Date: April 27, 2015

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Electric Power Sector Coal Stocks: January 2015

 



In January, total U.S. coal stockpiles increased 2%, or nearly 4 million tons, to 155 million tons from the previous month. This increase in coal stockpiles deviates from the normal pattern usually observed during the winter months, when coal consumption for electricity generation usually outpaces the delivery of coal received at power plants due to the need to meet winter heating demand. The warmer than average temperatures experienced throughout the country in December 2015 and January 2015 helps explain the increase in coal stockpiles, as there was less of need to consume coal for electricity generation to meet the demand for heating. Also, the significantly lower price for natural gas made coal a less competitive fuel source in some regions. Coal stockpiles increased 16% over levels observed last January.

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 increased from the previous month, going from 79 days in December to 81 days in January. On average, the days of burn at subbituminous units increased from 58 to 69 days of burn. The percentage of bituminous and subbituminous coal-fired capacity having less than 30 days of burn fell from 8% in December 2014 to 4% in January 2015.

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

  January 2015   January 2014   December 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 7,049 91   5,244 68 34.4% 7,513 86 -6.2%
  Subbituminous 779 203   129 17 505.3% 475 82 64.0%
South Bituminous 33,064 85   33,501 87 -1.3% 35,188 85 -6.0%
  Subbituminous 6,184 82   4,587 57 34.8% 6,352 78 -2.7%
Midwest Bituminous 14,363 73   9,906 49 45.0% 14,426 68 -0.4%
  Subbituminous 33,409 57   28,629 49 16.7% 31,939 51 4.6%
West Bituminous 5,349 70   5,793 77 -7.7% 5,421 65 -1.3%
  Subbituminous 28,839 82   24,301 68 18.7% 25,773 68 11.9%
U.S. Total Bituminous 59,824 81   54,445 74 9.9% 62,549 79 -4.4%
  Subbituminous 69,210 69   57,646 56 20.1% 64,539 58 7.2%

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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