Coal Shipped to U.S. Power Sector in 2018 Hit Three Decade Low: EIA

Nearly 600 million short tons of coal was shipped to the U.S. electric power sector in 2018, the lowest level since 1983, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Coal shipments to the electric power sector in 2018 were 7 percent (47 million short tons) lower than the previous year.

More than 75 percent of the coal delivered to the power sector last year was shipped either completely or in part by rail, while the remainder was shipped by river barge, truck, and other methods. According to EIA’s surveys, in 2018, the average transportation cost of coal was $16.07 per ton, down from $16.28 per ton in 2017. Transportation accounts for about 41 percent of the total delivered cost of coal. This proportion has increased steadily since 2008, when transportation accounted for about one-third of the total delivered cost of coal.

Nearly all U.S. coal comes from four regions, the Powder River Basin (Wyoming and Montana), the Illinois Basin, Central Appalachia, and Northern Appalachia.