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Coal Gained on Gas Last Year in Texas, ERCOT Says

Natural gas lost a bit of ground last year in its share of the Texas power generation pie, according to data released by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for most of the state.

Natural gas fueled 40.5% of the state's power generation last year, down from 44.6% in 2012; however, coal use increased to 37.2% from 33.8% in 2012. Nuclear dropped slightly to 11.6% from 11.8%; wind power grew to 9.9% from 9.2%. Hydro power stayed steady at 0.1% while "other" sources fell to 0.3% from 0.5%, according to ERCOT data.

Late last year the Brattle Group released a study that said natural gas-fueled generation and renewables would be sufficient to cover the future power needs of the Lone Star state and that no new coal plants needed to be built (see Daily GPI, Dec. 11, 2013). With more than 12,000 MW of installed generating capacity, Texas is the largest state producer of wind power in the country. Texas also is the leading U.S. producer of natural gas.

Overall, electricity use increased 2.1% last year in ERCOT compared with 2012. Demand for power during the hottest part of the summer was up by about 1%.

Compared to 2012, ERCOT's overall energy use increased from 324.86 million megawatt-hours (MWh) to 331.62 million MWh. At 67,245 megawatts (MW), peak demand was up by about 1% from 2012 but remained lower than the all-time record of 68,305 MW set on Aug. 3, 2011, during the hottest summer on record.

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