Power Industry


Coal-fired units produce electricity by burning coal in a boiler to heat water to produce steam. The steam, at tremendous pressure, flows into a turbine, which spins a generator to produce electricity. The steam is cooled, condensed back into water, and returned to the boiler to start the process over.

  • Half of U.S. electricity is generated from coal.
  • 9 out of every 10 tons of coal mined each year in the U.S. is used for domestic electricity generation.
  • Coal is the most affordable source of power fuel per million Btu, averaging less than one-quarter the price of petroleum and natural gas.
  • There are approximately 600 power plants (1,600 units) and 1,100 manufacturing facilities using coal in the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
  • Coal accounts for about 33 percent of U.S. total energy production and 22 percent of total energy consumption.
  • Power plants being built today emit 90 percent less pollutants (SO2, NOx, Particulates, mercury) than the plants they replace from the 1970s, according the National Energy Technology Laboratory.
  • Regulated emissions from coal-based electricity generation have decreased overall by nearly 40 percent since the 1970s while coal use has tripled, according to government statistics.
  • U.S. coal operations have reclaimed more than 2.2. million acres of mined land over the past 25 years.
  • Since 1978, U.S. coal mines have paid more than $7 billion to reclaim mines that were abandoned prior to laws requiring reclamation.
  • Approximately five million acres of land have been mined in the U.S. to produced coal; and most of the land not under active mining has been or is being reclaimed to the standards set by law.