U.S. Coal Prices Soar To 12-Year High

If this keeps up, you may want coal in your stocking this Christmas.

That’s because the price of coal is the highest it has been since 2009, according to data from S&P Global released on Monday.

Raked Over It

Here’s proof the black, rocky fossil fuel isn’t extinct yet: With natural gas prices skyrocketing as demand for energy surges, coal-fired power is on track to jump 22 percent in 2021, its first year-over-year increase since 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration.

So it’s safe to say coal markets are — you guessed it — on fire:

  • Prices in the Central Appalachian region, which represents a key domestic benchmark, leaped $10 last week to $89.75 per short ton, or $3.59 per MMBtu’s (million British thermal units), the highest mark since 2009.
  • Power companies such as Duke Energy Corp. and Xcel Energy Inc. are already warning customers to expect a roughly $11-a-month increase on winter electricity bills.

Slow Burn: At the COP26 international climate summit last week, participating nations made a last-minute compromise to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal power. China and India still rely heavily on the reliably cheap energy, and overall coal still makes up one-third of the world’s energy usage.

Canary In the Coal Mine: Still, coal is likely on the way out domestically. The US has cut roughly 30% of coal-fired generation capacity since 2010, and no new plants have opened since 2013. The Energy Information Administration expects a 5% usage dip in 2022, and the Biden administration has promised to remove all carbon from the power grid by 2035 and achieve net-zero admissions in the economy by 2050.

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