Town Crier “Briefs from the Region” (1) – 9/22/20
COVID-19 has greatly affected the economy—many have lost their jobs, are working from home and are buying less, among other factors. This has lowered the energy demand of companies and is resulting in coal-fueled power plants burning less during the pandemic. The Billings Gazette reports that through the first seven months of the year, Montana mines produced 15.1 million tons of coal, down 21 percent over the same period in 2019. Mines such as Spring Creek, Decker and Signal Peak in Montana are closer to Pacific Northwest coal ports than mines in Wyoming, which provides some stability in Montana’s export market, however, Montana was not unaffected by layoffs and furloughs in coal plants earlier in the year. As a whole, the industry is in decline. Coal power slipped from 40 percent of U.S. electricity production in 2012 to 29 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which estimates that coal will account for 20 percent of U.S. electricity this year.