Natural gas will produce more electricity than coal in 2016

Carbon power plant

EIA predicts that natural gas will surpass coal as generation source this year

For the first time ever, natural gas is expected to surpass coal as an electricity generating source in the United States.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that natural gas will account for 33 percent of electricity generation in 2016, which is slightly higher than the 32 percent forecasted mark for coal.

In 2015, natural gas and goal each accounted for roughly a third — 33 percent — of electricity generation, but this year is the first in which natural gas is expected to hold the top spot alone.

Coal has dominated historically

At the start of this century, from 2000 and 2008, coal generated nearly half of all U.S. electricity the EIA noted. The switch to natural gas began in 2009 when gas prices started to better compete with coal prices.

Between 2009 and 2015, the EIA said, coal and natural gas shares fluctuated along with prices and costs.

Natural gas bested coal for this first time on a monthly basis about a year ago, in April 2015, but that occurrence is expected to be more commonplace moving forward.

Source → U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)