The power market share spread between gas and coal last year narrowed remarkably, falling to just 7%, as the shale gas supplies crashed the price of gas and made it a ferocious competitor to coal.
And so coal last year had its worse year in power generation markets in decades. It provided just 37% of America's power. Coal's bad year was gas's great year, as gas grabbed market share and generated 30% of the nation's electricity. Indeed, in April of 2012, coal and gas provided almost equal amounts of our electric power, an extraordinary event in power markets. It should be noted that as recently as 2000, coal accounted for about 52% of our electricity and gas just 16%.
But gas above $3.50 per thousand cubic feet is changing the fortunes of gas and coal in 2013. In the first two months of 2013, coal surged up and provided 40% of our power, while gas sank to 26%.
Down to just 7% in 2012, the market share spread of gas and coal doubled to 14% in the first two months of this year. Coal's reign as the King of the power markets is more secure this year and may well not be challenged again seriously until 2015 at the earliest, when the EPA's Air Toxic rule takes effect.