Total electric power generation in the U.S. fell 1.2 percent in May 2011 compared to May 2010, according to preliminary data released July 22 by the Energy Information Administration.
Over the same period, coal generation fell 4.1 percent. Natural gas generation rose 4.0 percent.
Conventional hydroelectric generation had the largest percentage change, increasing 31.8 percent from the previous year. This was mainly due to record amounts of precipitation that fell in the Northwest in May 2011. Conventional hydroelectric generation for the year-to-date period ending May 2011 increased 36.3 percent over the previous year-to-date period ending May 2010. This occurred because the Northwest experienced its wettest spring on record.
Nuclear generation during May fell 15.8 percent, in part because the Tennesee Valley Authority’s 3,300 MW Browns Ferry nuclear plant was taken offline due to a tornado that damaged transmission lines connecting the facility to the power grid. Browns Ferry has three General Electric boiling water reactors.
During May, coal plants reached the end of their spring build-up of coal for consumption in the summer months. Accordingly, coal stocks for plants in the electric power sector remained relatively flat from the previous month, increasing 0.2 percent from April 2011. EIA said this year’s spring build-up of coal stocks has been less severe than last year’s as total coal stocks in May 2011 were 8.6 percent lower compared to May 2010.
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