Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Coal supplies at U.S. power plants rose 1 percent this week from last and are 16.3 percent greater than the same week of 2008, Genscape said Tuesday. Electric companies had 177.6 million short tons of coal stockpiled, up from 175.8 million tons reported last Tuesday and 152.8 million tons the same week last year. Nationally, U.S. generators as of Tuesday had an average of 66 days' supply of coal on hand, assuming typical burn rates. That is one more day's burn than last week, the industry data provider said.
As of Tuesday, power plants had nine more days' supply than the same week last year. That is the same margin over 2008 stockpiles that was reported last week, Genscape said.
Stockpiles, which usually start falling this time of year due to increased air-conditioning demand, have kept growing despite a slowdown in shipments from mines, Genscape said.
"Things are likely to get worse if General Motors goes ahead with idling its plants for a prolonged period as announced," Genscape said.
The recession, and its manifestations in industrial shutdowns, has cut deeply into power demand. Cheap, plentiful natural gas has replaced coal consumption at many power plants.
"Even a prolonged heat wave would not be sufficient to work off the surplus," Genscape said of coal supplies.
Coal stockpiles usually grow in the spring and fall, when mild weather eases cooling or heating demand. Stockpiles shrink as summer or winter sets in across the country, boosting demand for electricity for cooling or heating.
Mathematical rounding sometimes affects the results, overstating some changes and understating others, Genscape has said.