Coal power in the United States accounted for 39% of the country’s electricity production at utility-scale facilities in 2014, 33% in 2015, 30.4% in 2016, 30.0% in 2017, and 27.4% in 2018. Coal supplied 12.6 quadrillion BTUs of primary energy to electric power plants in 2017, which made up 91% of coal’s contribution to US energy supply. Utilities buy more than 90% of the coal consumed in the United States.
Coal has been used to generate electricity in the United States since an Edison plant was built in New York City in 1882. The first AC power station was opened by General Electric in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania in 1902, servicing the Webster Coal and Coke Company. By the mid-20th century, coal had become the leading fuel for generating electricity in the US. The long, steady rise of coal-fired generation of electricity shifted to a decline after 2007.
The decline has been linked to the increased availability of natural gas, decreased consumption, renewable power, and more stringent environmental regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency has advanced restrictions on coal plants to counteract mercury pollution, smog, and global warming.