June 16, 2022--Researched by Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas)--U.S. power-generation companies that use coal as a resource are enjoying a demand surge. A massive energy crunch is sending prices for natural gas--coal's biggest competitor--to unforeseen highs. Nonetheless, power generators acknowledge coal's long-term prospects as an energy feedstock face a likely insurmountable structural disadvantage. At least for the near term, they will need to keep their coal-based facilities in the best possible shape to handle rising demand. Despite aggressive decarbonization efforts from federal, state and corporate authorities, U.S. coal production is expected to increase 3.9% this year and another 2.1% in 2023. Energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are forecast to increase 1.3% this year, though that should reverse by next year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Industrial Info is tracking about 40 maintenance-related projects at U.S. coal-fired power plants that are set to begin in the second half of 2022. Leading power-generation companies such as <a href='https://my.xcelenergy.com/s/' target='_blank'>Xcel Energy Incorporated</a> (<a href='https://www.nasdaq.com/market-activity/stocks/xel' target='_blank'>NASDAQ:XEL</a>), <a href='https://www.duke-energy.com/home' target='_blank'>Duke Energy Corporation</a> (<a href='https://www.nyse.com/quote/XNYS:DUK' target='_blank'>NYSE:DUK</a>) and <a href='https://www.aep.com/' target='_blank'>American Electric Power Company Incorporated</a> (<a href='https://www.nasdaq.com/market-activity/stocks/aep' target='_blank'>NASDAQ:AEP</a>) (AEP) plan to continue closing their coal-fired facilities in the coming years, but are preparing to maintain their remaining plants to address the current spike in coal-energy demand.