U.S. natural gas end-use deliveries in 2020 decreased in three out of four consuming sectors relative to 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Natural Gas Monthly. Despite mild winter weather and the economic effects of COVID-19, the second-highest annual amount of natural gas was delivered in the United States to end users in 2020, averaging 75.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) for the year. The highest annual amount of natural gas consumption in the United States occurred in 2019, when end-use deliveries reached 77.6 Bcf/d.
The electric power sector consumed the most natural gas of any sector—31.7 Bcf/d in 2020, a 2% increase from the previous year. In 2020, natural gas prices were the lowest they had been in decades. Lower natural gas prices made natural gas more competitive in the electric power sector, especially compared with coal. Natural gas-fired electricity generation has been growing throughout the United States. Natural gas-fired generation replaced much of the lost generation from coal plant retirements in recent years, making natural gas the largest input fuel for power generation nationally. Natural gas accounted for nearly 40% of all power generation in 2020, accounting for more generation than coal and nuclear, the next two largest sources, combined.