U.S. coal use down 3 percent from previous week: Genscape

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 17, 2011 11:58 AM
U.S. coal use down 3 percent from previous week: Genscape

HOUSTON (Reuters) - U.S. coal consumption fell 3 percent in the past week, Genscape said on Friday, as cooler weather and nuclear plant restarts cut demand for coal-fired power.

Use of coal for the week ended Thursday fell 9 percent from the same week in 2010, the power industry data monitor said.

In the populous East, including the coal-dependent Midwest and Southeast, coal use dropped 3 percent from the previous week and was 8 percent lower than the same week last year.

In the less populous West, which was cooler and has fewer coal-fired power plants, coal use was up 1 percent week-to-week and up 1 percent from the year-earlier level.

In the East, weather was hot early in the week but cool later in the week, WSI Corp weather service said. The result was a net reduction in demand for power to run air-conditioning.

Temperatures averaged cooler than normal across a big swath of the nation for the period June 10 through Thursday, Weather Insight said.

Nuclear plant restarts, cutting outages from 12 percent to 9 percent of total capacity, fed the drop in coal use. Coal plants fill in for nuclear plants during maintenance.

Coal use swings up and down seasonally, and varies from week to week and region to region, depending on electricity demand to power heaters and run air-conditioners.

Coal plants produce about 50 percent of U.S. electricity. Power generation accounts for more than 90 percent of U.S. coal consumption.

Genscape's regional indexes are calculated separately from the national index and do not always add up to the separately calculated U.S. total, Genscape has said.

(Reporting by Bruce Nichols; Editing by Marguerita Choy)