Changes & Trends

Three centuries after it was discovered in America, coal is still providing power for the nation.  As we begin a new century, coal faces many challenges to its premier status, but its importance can never be questioned.  The fuel, coal, that enabled the United States to become the wealthiest industrialized nation in the world is still responsible for over half the nation's electrical power.

Coal provides 49% of the electricity in this country, and in Kentucky 92.2% of our electricity comes from coal. (See KY Coal-Fired Power Plants)

Average electricity costs in Kentucky were 5.43 cents per kilowatt-hour during 2006, the lowest in the United States, 39% below the national average in 2006.  These low rates are due to our reliance on coal-fired generation, sold at cost-based rates, as well as sound utility management and excellent public policy.

What Changes
are Occurring?

Kentucky's share of the steam coal market to U.S. electric utilities declined from 23.2% of the market in 1973 to 10.5% in 2006. (see U.S. Electric Utility-Coal)

As Kentucky coal companies have consolidated into a globally competitive industry the number of mines has decreased.  The number of mines currently in Kentucky is 442 compared to 2,063 mines which existed in 1984. (see Kentucky Production)

Post-mining land use changes are providing long term economic, social, and environmental benefits to Kentucky, and the benefits are increasing. (see Post-mining Land Uses & Mountaintop Mining Land Uses)

Is there a Trend?

Kentucky shipped 119 million tons to 30 states compared to the 44 million tons it received from 11 states in 2006.
 (see Distribution - Utility Coal)

In comparison to other fuels, coal continues to be the lowest-cost fuel for electric generation.

Underground and surface mining in Kentucky continue to show steady safety improvements. 

Over $3.95 billion continues to be brought into Kentucky each year from coal sales to 30 other states and 4 foreign countries.  (see Economic Impact)

The number of successful mining reclamation bond releases in Kentucky continues to grow each year.  (see Reclamation)

On The Horizon?

A new coal-fired electric utility company power plant went online in 2005, the first in over 15 years.  In 2005, the Kentucky PSC approved another coal-fired power plant, and in 2006 applications were pending before the PSC for two additional coal-fired power plants.

Source:  See individual reference pages as listed.