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EIA: NatGas Leads Power Gen Capacity Additions

Natural gas led the way for new electricity generation capacity in the first half of 2014 (1H2014), accounting for about half of the added capacity, according to the latest electricity monthly statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released on Monday.

Solar was the next biggest gainer, followed by wind generation, EIA said. There was zero coal-fired capacity added in 1H2014.

A total of 4,350 MW of new utility-scale generating capacity came online during the six-month period, with natural gas-fired combined-cycle plants accounting for more than half (2,180 MW) of that total. That represented a 60% increase for gas compared to 1,380 MW in the same period last year.

Four plants accounted for the combined-cycle capacity additions: Riviera (1,212 MW) in Florida, Lake Side Power Plant (629 MW) in Utah; and the Channel Energy Center (183 MW) and Deer Park Energy Center (155 MW), both in Texas.

"Significantly fewer combustion turbine plants were added [130 MW] compared to last year [3,120 MW], making June 2014 year-to-date additions of natural gas plants overall about half the level of the same period last year," according to the EIA report's principal contributor, April Lee.

Overall, the capacity additions during 1H2014 were 40% less than the same period last year, when about 7,250 MW was added. Natural gas additions were down about half while solar was up nearly 70% compared to 1H2013, and wind additions doubled compared to the same 2013 period.

No coal-fired capacity has been added this year, compared with two new coal plants in 1H2013: Sandy Creek (937 MW) in Texas and Edwardsport in Indiana (571 MW), an integrated gasification combined-cycle plant. "They were somewhat special situations of delayed coal projects finally coming online in 2013, " Lee said.

Four solar plants representing a combined 583 MW came online in the first six months this year in California. A fifth plant, Agua Caliente (110 MW), was added in Arizona, making that project the largest using solar photovoltaic technology (290 MW) in the world.

A total of 675 MW of wind capacity came online in 1H2014 in California, Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska.

And 122 MW of hydroelectric capacity was added in Washington, EIA said. The power from the Wanapum Dam replaces a 104 MW turbine that was retired at the end of last year.

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