Coal as a go-to fuel for electric power continues to decline. The Energy Information Agency confirmed that 2019 saw a 6.7 percent drop in coal deliveries to US power plants. “Coal’s forecast share of electricity generation will fall from 24% in 2019 to 21% in both 2020 and 2021.” Coal was about half of power generation just before 2000.
A Carolina company, Duke Energy, was mentioned in the news report, but not for its Carolina plants: “For the third straight year, Duke Energy Indiana was the largest operator of bituminous coal in 2019, taking delivery of 9.89 million st [short tons], down from 11.76 million st in 2018.” (Source)
One business news website frames up coal power like this: “Power generators are turning away from coal assets primarily due to economic factors. Coal-fired power plants have become more expensive to fuel and maintain than newer natural gas-fired power plants in much of the country. Onshore wind farms in the Midwest and West Texas have also forced many coal-fired power plants into an early retirement.”
Think of sources for coal and you may think of Kentucky, West Virginia, or Wyoming, but check this: “The majority of the coal imports came from Colombia at 2.79 million st, [Alabama, Florida, Maine, New Hampshire] … A Hawaii coal plant took 665,423 st of Indonesian coal in 2019…”
This chart shows how coal inventories at power plants has gone from a high of almost 200 million st to about half that amount.
Will the decline last? Not sure. “EIA expects that coal production will stabilize in 2021 as export demand stabilizes and U.S. power sector demand for coal increases because of rising natural gas prices.”