Gas, Coal Dominate New Electrical Capacity
Despite all the strum und drang about renewable resources, the new electrical capacity brought online in 2011 has been dominated by natural gas and coal. In the ten states that have added the most capacity, only California and Colorado have added significant amounts of wind. Texas has given up building windmills since it found that transmitting the power from the western part of the state to eastern population centers was too expensive. The poor performance of wind in the recent heat wave has reinforced this trend. Florida has added nearly all natural gas as have Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Oklahoma. The development of the Marcellus Shale and other hydrofracking in the East have made this new construction feasible. That Texas, Wisconsin and Kentucky have each been able to add more than 600 MW of new coal capacity is surprising, since new coal plants are being loudly opposed everywhere. What it indicates is that much of the nation’s energy progress still takes place beneath the radar while technologies such as solar energy – which receive huge amounts of press attention – contribute little or nothing.