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New report makes shocking reveal about America's coal-fueled power plants — a record-setting change is the culprit

On a national level, the trend was clear from early-year data. 

EIA makes shocking reveal about America's coal-fueled power plants

Photo Credit: iStock

The winds of change — or, at least, wind and solar power — may be blowing past dirty old coal as a leading source of electricity in the United States.

Wind and solar combined for nearly 16% of electrical energy generation in the U.S. over the first five months of this year, while coal contributed about 15%, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) — with the first four months also reported on by Electrek.

Wind generated about 12% of the U.S. total through the first five months. Solar, including small-scale and utility-scale production, contributed about 4%. 

The statistics were only for part of a year, but they're another milestone in the continuing transition toward clean energy and away from coal, a power source that releases heat-trapping air pollution. The shift has positive implications for keeping the air healthier and moderating climate change.

Electrek also reports that, when you consider biomass, geothermal, and hydropower as renewable energy along with wind and solar, those energy sources accounted for nearly 26% of U.S. electrical generation through April. 

Data appeared in the EIA's "Electric Power Monthly" reports.

An analysis of the data through April by the nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign noted that solar-generated electricity grew by more than 10% from the same period in 2022 and benefited from large increases in small-scale generation, such as from rooftop solar systems.

Meanwhile, coal-electric generation plunged more than 28% compared to the same time last year, per SUN DAY. 

Electricity generation is just one sector of energy use, and coal is still part of a mix of sources we all depend on nationally and globally. And yet, breaking free of this dependence has advantages

One big plus is saving money. Earlier this year, the group Energy Innovation reported that it's cheaper to replace 99% of U.S. coal plants with renewables than to run them. 

The Inflation Reduction Act has received significant credit for incentivizing the shift to renewables. And the great news for average Americans is that incentives are significant for citizens as well as for companies to save money by switching to renewables.

Meanwhile, on a national level, the trend was clear from early-year data. 

Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, summarized this in a news release: "The mix of all renewables continues to set new records."

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