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On February 6, 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the 2018 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO). The final AEO 2018 contains projections of energy use from the electric power, residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors through 2050. It is important to note that the AEO Reference case is not a forecast, but is instead a projection based on estimates of fuel availability, changes in technology costs, and currently enacted legislation.

Data released May 26 by the EIA shows that March 2016 was a historically low month for coal generation in the United States. National coal generation dropped to just 72 TWh, the lowest level of monthly coal generation measured since April 1978 (see Figure 1). While before 2015 it was uncommon for natural gas generation to approach equivalent levels of coal generation, in March 2016 nearly 1.5 times as much electricity was produced from natural gas-fired generators as coal-fired generators.

On May 17, 2016, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) published an early release of its Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) for 2016. This early release contains projections for two scenarios: a Reference case, which includes the effects of the Clean Power Plan, and a “No Clean Power Plan” case, which examines a future in which there is no Clean Power Plan. Final versions of each of these cases, along with projections for numerous other scenarios, will be available on July 7, 2016. Until then, here are some of the key highlights in the latest AEO:

April 2015 was the first month ever in which more electricity was produced from natural gas-fired generators than from coal-fired generators nationwide, according to data released last week by the EIA. The EIA’s monthly update includes data through April 2015, so we do not yet know how natural gas fared against coal in May and June.

In addition, this April saw the lowest amount of coal-fired generation in 32 years—not since April 1983 has coal-fired generation been as low as it was in April 2015.