US coal use hits 34-year low

For the first time since 1978 the monthly coal power generation in the US fell below 40%.

November and December of 2011 saw a significant drop in coal usage due largely to two factors. First of all the US experienced a very mild winter. Secondly, low natural gas prices have shifted many energy firms to focus new plant construction around gas instead of coal.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal accounted for 39% of energy generation in the last two months of 2011, compared to 46% in 2010.

Gas-fired power plants generated an additional 12% of energy over 2011, while coal generation contracted 21%.