This week’s report is being distributed one day early.
Coal inventories decline due to increased burn
This is what the EIA reported today concerning the increased coal burn by utilities and the drop in their coal inventories.
Coal inventories at power plants dropped below the monthly five-year average in April, the first time this has happened since December 2011. The decline in stockpiles occurred as coal burn increased across much of the nation during a winter that was colder than the previous winter. In addition, rising natural gas prices prompted some power plants to burn more coal and less gas to generate electricity.
Total coal consumption was up 11% in first-quarter 2013, compared to the same period in 2012. However, the increase in coal consumption did not translate into increased sales by coal producers. Receipts of coal at electric power plants actually decreased 5% between first-quarter 2012 and first-quarter 2013 as plant operators chose to meet rising demand by drawing down the historically high levels of stockpiles.