Spot prices for coal from Central Appalachia rose to $204.95 a ton for the week ending Sept. 30, the highest in records dating to 2005, according to data released Monday by the US Energy Information Administration.
Coal remains a leading fuel in US power plants, and the soaring prices will ratchet up pressure on US homes already struggling with record-high electricity bills. About 20 million household across the country — or about one in six — have fallen behind on their utility bills, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.
The share prices of big US coal companies responded favorably. Peabody Energy Corp. shares rose as much as 6.5% to $26.42 and traded at $26.21 at 12:41 p.m. in New York. Arch Resources Inc. climbed as much as 7.4% to $127.41.
Coal prices began surging as economies around the world recovered from pandemic lockdowns, driving up demand for electricity faster than coal miners and natural gas producers could boost supply for power plants. That was exacerbated when Russia’s war in Ukraine upended energy markets, and power-plant demand for coal and natural gas has continued to rise amid record summer heat.
Meanwhile, coal producers are running at full-tilt and have little ability to boost output. Even if they could, clogged supply chains mean they would have trouble delivering any additional tons. All of that is putting steady, upward pressure on prices, which have surged to records in the US, Asia and Europe.