Monday, October 8, 2012

NY Cuts Coal To Less Than 4% Of State Generation By Using Much More Gas: NY Moratorium Does Not Apply To Gas Consumption

The Empire state's appetite for gas grows, even as it extends its moratorium. In fact, after another big increase in gas-fired generation in 2012, New York generates substantially more of its electricity from gas than any other source and is using gas to nearly eliminate coal generation.

In the first 7 months of 2012, New York's gas-fired generation increased 21%, compared to the same period in 2011, and provided 34.6 billion kilowatt-hours of generation or 6 billion more kilowatt-hours more than in 2011.  Only Texas, California, and Florida generate more electricity from gas.

In addition to burning gas to make electricity, New York relies also on nuclear power and hydro, but both of those sources saw small declines in 2012. Nuclear power plants in New York provided the second highest amount of power in 2012 at 23.4 billion kilowatt-hours or down 2.3% compared to 2011.  Hydro ranked third at 15.6 billion, down 1%.

What about wind and coal?  Wind provided 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours, up 9% from 2011 and about 2% of New York's generation.  In actual kilowatt-hours generated the wind increase and the hydro decrease were offsetting.

Interestingly and ironically, New York is displaying the same pattern of gas displacing coal as is seen around the country. Coal generation within New York declined from 7 billion kilowatt-hours, during the first 7 months of 2011, to 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours, from January to July of 2012.

In fact, gas generation increased 6 billion kilowatt-hours, while coal generation fell 4.25 billion kilowatt-hours. And it is gas that is displacing coal generation, and not renewable energy, that is displacing coal within New York in 2012.  New York's combined renewable energy generation from hydro and non-hydro sources was almost exactly the same in 2012, as it was in 2011, since wind's modest increase was offset by a slight decline in hydro production.

As a result of the 21% increase in gas-fired generation in 2012, coal generation now accounts for less than 4% of the power generated within New York.

Even though its appetite for gas grows, New York recently announced that shale gas production would be delayed, until further study of health impacts of gas production could be completed.  Inasmuch as the growth of gas has reduced coal generation to less than 4%, New York's study should include the health benefits of decreased air pollution coming from New York power plants and buildings, as a result of more gas being utilized, to displace coal and oil.  Indeed, so far, New York's public health has been improved by its use of natural gas.

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