The future of coal-fired electricity in the USA will be decided substantially in just 5 states--Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Illinois. These Big 5 coal generation states account for one-third of coal-fired generation in the USA. And these Big 5 coal states have led coal's 2013 rebound.
Coal-fired electric generation is up nationally 6.1% in 2013, while it is up more than 11% in Texas.
Yet, coal's rebound is not likely to continue after 2014. Why?
In part because electricity demand will rise slowly or not at all in 4 of the Big 5 states that are key markets for coal. Other factors limiting coal's future is booming renewable energy in all 5 states and across America, substantial coal retirements likely in the 2014 to 2020 period, and low natural gas prices that are likely to continue at least for several more years.
Finally, the Big 5 coal-fired electricity generation states also have competitive generation markets and Regional Transmission Organizations. Most power plants in these states must compete daily for revenues and are not protected by being part of a monopoly utility's rate base. As such coal-fired power plants are subject to intense competitive pressure in most of Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Illinois.