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Electricity generation sees modest growth in 2003

Electricity generation sees modest growth in 2003 < News < Bet On Markets

WASHINGTON (AFX) -- Electricity generation in the United States saw modest growth in 2003 due to a cooler summer, but that did not prevent utilities from churning out a profit, according to a report from the Energy Department released Friday.

Although sales of electricity were up just 0.7 percent in 2003, the industry witnessed an increase in revenues and brought online a significant amount of new capacity.

«While electricity sales increased only slightly, revenue to electric utilities and energy service providers increased to nearly $259 billion in 2003, up 3.7 percent from 2002,» the report said.

At the same time, prices for all customers increased. The national average retail price across all sectors averaged 7.42 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2003, an increase of 2.9 percent from the average price in 2002, the report said.

Total U.S. electric generation reached 3,883 billion kilowatt-hours in 2003, an increase of 0.6 percent over 2002 levels, the report from the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said. This is well below the average annual growth of 2.4 percent seen between 1992 and 2003. But the industry still added 48 gigawatts of new capacity, the second-largest amount in any single year, behind only 2002 when 58 gigawatts were added, the report said.

Of this new capacity, 80 percent was natural gas-fired plants. Natural gas and dual-fired power plants, which can run off natural gas or petroleum, now account for 40 percent of U.S. generating capacity and are gradually stealing ground from coal-fired generation.

Although coal plants still accounted for 51 percent of total generation, coal’s share of electricity capacity continued to decline in 2003, the report said. Carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generators increased 0.5 percent between 2002 and 2003, reaching the highest level since 2000.

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