Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said he will revive the coal industry, but also supports natural gas development from hydraulic fracturing, and coal will continue to struggle as long as natural gas is more cost-effective, Tate notes. U.S. coal use declined 29 percent from 2007 to 2015. It costs $95 per megawatt hour to generate power from conventional coal, compared to $73 per hour from gas.
Pauley said gas, which is expected to overtake coal this year as the country’s No. 1 source of power, "could continue to under-price coal for the next 20 to 50 years," Tate writes. "Pauley also cited stagnant or lower demand for residential power, increasing energy efficiency and the declining cost of renewable energy as factors pressuring coal." Kentucky Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, has already transitioned one of its Eastern Kentucky coal-fired power plants to natural gas.