Demand for coal in the electric power sector will fall by 2% in 2020, compared with an expected—and much larger—decline of 15% this year, according to federal energy officials.

“However, planned coal plant retirements will continue to put downward pressure on overall electricity demand for the fuel,” said this month’s Short-Term Energy Outlook released by the Energy Information Administration.

Almost 13 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity will have retired by the end of 2019 or is scheduled to retire by the end of next year, according to the report. That’s about 5% of existing capacity in 2018.

A related EIA publication released July 26 shows that between 2010 and the first quarter of 2019, U.S. power companies announced the retirement of more than 546 coal-fired power units. That’s about 102 GW of generating capacity. By 2025, plant owners intend to retire another 17 GW of coal capacity, according to the Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory, which is based on EIA’s Annual Generation Inventory Report.

August marks the debut of EIA forecasts of wholesale electricity prices and improved analysis of regional trends, with information on hourly generation at individual power plants. It includes the following findings:

  • Lower annual average wholesale electricity prices for this year compared to 2018 in all areas of the country. Year-over-year declines range from -0.2% in the Southwest Power Pool to -28% in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas market.
  • Slightly lower forecasts of wind power and solar energy production in 2019 and 2020 because of changes in how renewable resources are reported.

And if you’ve left your summer road trips for August, you’re in luck. It looks like gasoline prices peaked for the year in May, the report said. A gallon of regular gasoline averaged $2.74 in July, up 2 cents a gallon from June but still 11 cents a gallon lower than the average last July. Prices will fall even more in September to an average of $2.64 a gallon.

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