Affordable Alternative to Coal
The modern fleet of U.S. natural gas-fired generating plants operated at just 28% capacity on average in 2011. Utilizing these plants to displace coal-fired power generation is the fastest and most economical path to significant carbon emission reductions. In fact, higher utilization of gas fired plants in 2012 helped drive U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to the lowest level since 1994.
Building and operating new, efficient natural gas power plants to replace coal would reduce carbon dioxide emissions and would cost about 40% less than the equivalent amount of new wind generation. Producing electricity from natural gas is highly efficient and requires smaller, less costly pieces of equipment. Also, natural gas does not require the capital equipment and operating costs to reduce air emissions – or the need to dispose of solid waste – that coal-fired plants do.
Natural gas for residential and commercial heating is also increasingly appealing. The decline in wellhead prices in early 2013 has translated into significantly lower prices for natural gas delivered to residential consumers. In fact, residential gas prices in 2013 were the lowest since 2003.