Capacity for natural gas-generated electricity expected to rise

The U.S. Department of Energy expects the capacity of natural gas-fired power plants to grow over the next two years, despite rising costs of natural gas.

The use of natural gas to generate electricity continues to grow while the use of coal declines, as it has over the past five years, according to the Energy Department. Low natural gas prices in 2016 and federal environmental regulations meant to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants have driven the country’s shift to natural-gas.

Most of the nation’s new natural gas-fired power plants are getting built in Texas and the Mid-Atlantic states, where the country’s biggest natural gas shale plays are.

Last year, natural gas prices were the lowest since 1999, a price plunge in part driven by technology that unlocked previously unreachable reserves of natural gas in shale formations.. The Energy Department expects natural gas prices to rise in 2017 and 2018, as demand during a colder than average winter depletes natural gas in storage.