- Nearly one third of Texas coal-fired generation was offline for extended periods in the month of March, grid operator ERCOT reported last week, bringing the state's coal burn down to its lowest level in more than a decade.
- Up to 16 of the state's 32 plants did not generate "during a good portion of the month due to planned outages or forced outages, or presumably economics," ERCOT's independent market monitor said.
- Coal provided 22% of ERCOT electricity in March 2015, down from 38% a year before.
Coal generators in the ERCOT system spent much of the month offline, according to a new report from the grid operator's independent monitor Beth Garza. Up to half of the grid operator's 32 units were shuttered at some point, either for maintenance of unplanned outages or because economics forced them to go offline.
Generation from coal facilities was 5.6 GWh in March, significantly below the 9.3 GWh produced a year before. Falling gas prices may have played a part, Argus notes, with Houston Ship Channel prices averaging less than $3/MMBtu — the threshold where gas edges out coal.
Texas generation mix is changing, with wind power ramping up and solar just beginning.
Last year, wind generation provided 10.6% of the electricity used by ERCOT. Natural gas plants topped the Texas generation mix in 2014, generating 41% of the state's electricity. Coal was second at 36%, and nuclear was third at 12%.