Nearly three-quarters of gas-fired power plants in the continental United States fulfill all of their fuel requirements through firm contracts that obligate the pipeline operator to send the natural gas to the power plant when requested. Only 16% of plant operators purchase gas on interruptible contracts, while 13% use some mix of firm and interruptible supply.
In the South of the United States the intensity and speed of gas replacing coal in the power mix has been greater than anywhere else in the country. Over the course of the past ten years, southern states used natural gas for 42% of their electricity generation – substantially more than the U.S. average of 34% – while the share of coal power plunged to 29%.
Unabated growth in energy consumption prevails in Texas: The Lone Star State has consumed the most energy in every year since 1960, the earliest year for which EIA has data. By year-end it is estimated to exceed 12,998 trillion Btu. California ranked second, consuming about 8% of U.S. total energy use.
New utility-scale solar power installations increased in the United States in 2010-16 at a faster rate than any other electricity generating technology. Solar PV and thermal power facilities together grew 72% per annum on average to currently over 21.5 GW. But regardless of this rapid growth, solar's contribution to the overall US power mix remains fairly limited – the dominant fuel is natural gas.
In designing the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the US Environmental Protection Agency has provided states with implementation flexibility. Adopted differences in pollutant target types, emission trading markets such as RGGI and policy timeline will greatly alter the installed generating capacity and power mix at state level.
Electricity sales in 2015 totalled 3.72 billion kWh, down 1.1% from 2014, subdued by faltering industrial demand and a notable decline in sales in the Midwest, the US Energy Information Administration finds. Market saturation, a slowdown in economic growth and rising use of electricity-efficient equipment are cited as the key reasons for the year-on-year drop.