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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for September 2022 Release Date: November 23, 2022 Next Release Date: December 22, 2022

Resource Use: September 2022

Supply and fuel consumption

In this section, we look at the resources used to produce electricity. Generating units are chosen to run primarily on their operating costs, of which fuel costs account for the lion's share. Therefore, we present below, electricity generation output by fuel type and generator type. Since the generator/fuel mix of utilities varies significantly by region, we also present generation output by region.

Generation output by region



Net electricity generation in the United States increased slightly (up 0.9%) in September 2022 compared to the previous year. However, when one looks at different parts of the country, there were varying degrees of change in electricity generation compared to the previous year. The Southeast (up 4.3%), West (up 5.6%), and Texas (up 1.4%) each saw a year-over-year increase in electricity generation, while the Northeast (down 5.3%), MidAtlantic (down 0.9%), Central (down 8.0%), and Florida (down 2.4%) all saw a decrease in electricity generation from the previous September.

Electricity generation from coal was down in all parts of the country compared to September 2021. Natural gas generation was up in almost all parts of the country, except the Northeast and Florida, where natural gas generation was down 0.5% in both regions compared to the previous year. Nuclear generation was down 1.2%, while electricity generation from other renewables was down 2.0% compared to the previous September.

Fossil fuel consumption by region





The chart above compares coal consumption in September 2021 and September 2022 by region and the second tab compares natural gas consumption by region over the same period. Changes in coal and natural gas consumption were similar to their respective changes in coal and natural gas generation.

The third tab presents the change in the relative share of fossil fuel consumption by fuel type on a percentage basis, calculated using equivalent energy content (Btu). This highlights changes in the relative market shares of coal, natural gas, and petroleum. All regions of the country saw their shares of natural gas increase at the expense of coal.

The fourth tab presents the change in coal and natural gas consumption on an energy content basis by region. The changes in total coal and natural gas consumption were similar to the changes seen in total coal and natural gas net generation in each region.

Fossil fuel prices



To gain some insight into the changing pattern of consumption of fossil fuels over the past year, we look at relative monthly average spot fuel prices. A common way to compare fuel prices is on an equivalent $/MMBtu basis as shown in the chart above. The average price of natural gas at Henry Hub decreased from the previous month, going from $9.11/MMBtu in August 2022 to $8.09/MMBtu in September 2022. The natural gas price for New York City (Transco Zone 6 NY) also decreased from the previous month, going from $8.43/MMBtu in August 2022 to $6.72/MMBtu in September 2022. For the eighth consecutive month, the average spot price of Central Appalachian coal increased from the previous month, going from $7.85/MMBtu in August 2022 to $8.37/MMBtu in September 2022.

For the third consecutive month, the New York Harbor residual oil price saw a decrease in price from the previous month, going from $14.66/MMBtu in August 2022 to $13.16/MMBtu in September 2022. As is the case in most months, oil was priced out of electricity markets for baseload operations in September 2022.

A fuel price comparison based on equivalent energy content ($/MMBtu) does not reflect differences in energy conversion efficiency (heat rate) among different types of generators. Gas-fired combined-cycle units tend to be more efficient than coal-fired steam units. The second tab shows coal and natural gas prices on an equivalent energy content and efficiency basis. The Henry Hub natural gas price ($64.84/MWh) saw a decrease from the previous month ($73.00/MWh) and was below the Central Appalachian coal price ($90.41/MWh) in September 2022. The price of natural gas at New York City ($53.84/MWh) decreased from the previous month ($67.50/MWh) and was still below the price of Central Appalachian coal ($90.41/MWh) during September 2022.

The conversion shown in this chart is done for illustrative purposes only. The competition between coal and natural gas to produce electricity is more complex. It involves delivered prices and emission costs, the terms of fuel supply contracts, and the workings of fuel markets.

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