In the South, the amount of electricity generated with coal fell to 29% in 2016, from 50% in 2006, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Over the same period in the South, the amount of electricity generated with natural gas has risen to 42%, from 25%. Nationwide, 34% of electricity was generated with natural gas.
Natural gas accounted for 89% of electricity generation in Delaware but only 2% in West Virginia. In 2016, the amount of U.S. electricity generated by natural gas exceed that of coal for the first time, as a result of competition between the fuels. In the South, electricity generated by natural gas exceeded that of coal in 2012, 2015 and 2016. In the western division of the South, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, the amount of electricity generated by natural gas has exceed that of coal for more than a decade. In the southeastern division of the South, which includes Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, the amount of electricity generated by coal exceeds that of natural gas, but the difference has narrowed.
In 2016, Arkansas, Maryland and Tennessee used more coal (37%-39%) for electricity generation than the national average of 30%.
Between 2006 and 2016, 20.8 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity were taken offline in the South. Between 2007 and 2013, 9.6 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity was added in the South, but since 2013, no new coal-fired capacity has been added. Between 2006 and 2017, the majority of electricity generating capacity that was added in the South came from natural gas and wind, at 47 gigawatts and 25.6 gigawatts, respectively. The majority of wind generating capacity was added in Oklahoma and Texas. The South has the newest nuclear power generator, the Watts Bar Unit 2 in Tennessee, and the only nuclear power plant still under construction, the Vogtle plant in Georgia. In South Carolina, construction of the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant was canceled earlier this year.