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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/27/2014 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Lower prices, rising competition and oversupply takes toll on energy sector

Dealing with cheap natural gas and tighter regulation, the U.S. coal industry has fallen on hard times. The very fuel that fed the Industrial Revolution and powered U.S. growth for much of the past century, the coal industry finds itself on the brink of insolvency, with many companies going out of business.

The very fuel that fed the Industrial Revolution and powered U.S. growth for much of the past century, the coal industry finds itself on the brink of insolvency, with many companies going out of business.

The very fuel that fed the Industrial Revolution and powered U.S. growth for much of the past century, the coal industry finds itself on the brink of insolvency, with many companies going out of business.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/27/2014 (8 months ago)

Published in Business & Economics

Keywords: Coal mining, bankruptcy, frackin, competition


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - An increase in fracking has led some electric utilities away from coal. Adding to coal's woes is the fact that the electric-power sector will use three percent less coal next year and isn't expected to recover to 2011 levels by 2040, the last year of a U.S. Energy Department forecast period.

The coal mining industry is finding itself unable to give the stuff away, as exports are failing to save U.S. miners. Slowing Chinese growth and rising competition from overseas, including increased Australian output, have sent the price of metallurgical coal, commonly used in steelmaking, to a six-year low.

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Frequently used in power plants to produce electricity, Central Appalachian thermal coal fell on the New York Mercantile Exchange by 4.6 percent in 2013 compared with 2012.

Coal plants capable of generating 60,000 megawatts, enough to power 48 million average U.S. homes, will now shutter and close by 2020 because of tighter pollution regulations, slow growth in power use, and competition from natural gas. According to the Energy Department, that's about 20 percent of coal plants by capacity and about six percent of total power-generating capacity as of 2012.

At 3.2 percent of coal-fired capacity, enough for eight million homes, disappeared in 2012. The balance of closings will occur by 2016, when new clean-air regulations take effect.

At least three coal-related energy producers filed for bankruptcy in less than two years. Longview Power LLC, Dynegy Inc. (DYN) and Edison Mission Energy. The bankruptcies of James River, America West Resources Inc. (AWSRQ), Trinity Coal Corp., Americas Energy Co., Clearwater Resources LP and Consolidated Energy add credence to the concern for the deteriorating market for U.S. coal.

Many companies not in bankruptcy are cutting production and reporting revenue declines.

Lower prices, rising competition and oversupply have taken their toll on coal, cutting profits have pushed many such companies out of business. 

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