Utilities are expected to bring another 36 GW of natural gas power plants online by the end of 2018, according to Short-Term Energy Outlook report published this month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

If these expected power plant additions occur, natural gas capacity will rise by ~8% by the end of 2018. According to the EIA's new report, this new capacity “could help natural gas maintain its status as the primary energy source for power generation [in the United States], even if natural gas prices rise moderately.”

This expansion will follow five years of declining coal power plant capacity in the United States as low natural gas prices continue to challenge the coal fleet. All told, the United States’ coal-fired power plant capacity fell by around 47 GW over the past 5 years, says the EIA. This is the equivalent of a 15% reduction in the country’s coal power plant fleet over this five-year period.