The EIA on Tuesday released its March Short-Term Energy Outlook, which projects natural gas will fuel 33.4 percent of the country’s power generation in 2016 compared to coal’s 32 percent.
The March forecast marks the first time the EIA has projected natural gas-fired generation to surpass coal on an annual average basis.
The EIA expects coal production to total about 784 million short tons (st) this year, 12.4 percent less than 2015 and a 21.4-percent drop from 2014.
Much of the decline is attributed to low natural gas prices. The EIA forecasts the Henry Hub spot price for natural gas will average $2.25/MMBtu compared to $2.63/MMBtu in 2015 and $4.26/MMBtu in 2014.