U.S. doubles down on gas, solar infrastructure

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2016

The United States has added twice as much natural gas and solar power to its electric grid compared with the same period last year, federal energy regulators say.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s energy infrastructure update says nearly 4,300 megawatts of new gas-fired generation came online from January through May of this year, compared with 1,796 MW installed during the same period last year.

FERC also tracked the addition of almost 1,500 MW of solar power in the first five months of this year, compared with 679 MW in the same stretch last year.

Other forms of generation were stagnant or in decline.

There were no new coal or nuclear units during the first five months of this year, and wind installations fell short of last year’s additions. About 1,400 MW of new wind capacity began operating from January through May, compared with more than 1,800 MW the same time last year.

Natural gas also accounts for more than 43 percent of the nation’s available installed generating capacity, more than any other fuel type. Coal came in second, providing 25.42 percent, followed by nuclear, water and wind.

The commission has seen a sharp uptick in the number of applications for new gas pipelines and compressor stations. Several new gas generators came online in recent months, including plants in Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Rhode Island and Texas.

There was new solar online, the report says, in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and Rhode Island.