By Michael Kanellos
The Energy Information Administration says that July marked the twelfth month in a row that electric power generation was down in America.
But don't get too excited about us getting more energy efficient. The likely culprit is a decline in industrial production.
Net power generation in the U.S. dropped by 7.6 percent in July 2009 from July 2008, according to the EIA, along with a drop in industrial production of 13 percent.
Year-to-date, power generation is down 5.4 percent in all (find statistics galore here).
Coal consumption dropped by 15 percent falling 28,200 gigawatt hours or 15 percent in July compared to the same period a year ago. Through July, coal is down 13 percent.
Since the beginning of the year, coal has accounted for 44.7 percent of the electrical supply in the U.S., down from historical norms closer to 47 and 49 percent. Declines in West Virginia, Indiana, Alabama, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina accounted for 54.3 percent of the national decrease.
Natural gas consumption has risen slightly and has accounted for 22.3 percent of electrical power so far this year while nuclear has declined slightly to 20.6 percent.
Renewables not including large hydroelectric dams (which account for 7.4 percent of U.S. electricity) come to 3.7 percent for the year through July. That represents an increase. Renewable energy sources through July produced 78.5 gigawatt hours of power, compared to 73.3 gigawatt hours through July last year.
Wind leads the charge. Wind accounted for 38.9 gigawatt hours of the total, up from 31.5 gigawatt hours last year through July. Wind power was up 18.5 percent in July 2009 compared to the same month a year ago.
Solar, weirdly, is down. There were 488 gigawatt hours of solar power generated through July this year, down from 543 gigawatt hours last year.
In July, solar accounted for 108 gigawatt hours out of the total U.S. generation of 371,631 gigawatt hours, or 0.03 percent of the total. In July 2008, solar accounted for 114 gigawatt hours of power of a total of 402,088. While the percentage works out to about the same, the aggregate power output was higher.