This excerpt taken from the ACI 10-K filed Mar 1, 2010.
Decreases in demand for electricity resulting from economic, weather changes or other conditions could adversely affect coal prices and materially and adversely affect our results of operations.
Our coal is primarily used as fuel for electricity generation. Overall economic activity and the associated demands for power by industrial users can have significant effects on overall electricity demand. An economic slowdown can significantly slow the growth of electrical demand and could result in contraction of demand for coal. Declines in international prices for coal generally will impact U.S. prices for coal. During the past several years, international demand for coal has been driven, in significant part, by fluctuations in demand due to economic growth in China and India as well as other developing countries. Significant declines in the rates of economic growth in these regions could materially affect international demand for U.S. coal, which may have an adverse effect on U.S. coal prices.
Weather patterns can also greatly affect electricity demand. Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, cause increased power usage and, therefore, increased generating requirements from all sources. Mild temperatures, on the other hand, result in lower electrical demand, which allows generators to choose the sources of power generation when deciding which generation sources to dispatch. Any downward pressure on coal prices, due to decreases in overall demand or otherwise, including changes in weather patterns, would materially and adversely affect our results of operations.
The use of alternative energy sources for power generation could reduce coal consumption by U.S. electric power generators, which could result in lower prices for our coal. Declines in the prices at which we sell our coal could reduce our revenues and materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.
In 2009, approximately 94% of the tons we sold were to domestic electric power generators. Domestic electric power generation accounted for approximately 92.7% of all U.S. coal consumption in 2007, according to the EIA. The amount of coal consumed for U.S. electric power generation is affected by, among other things:
Gas-fueled generation has the potential to displace coal-fueled generation, particularly from older, less efficient coal-powered generators. We expect that many of the new power plants needed to meet increasing demand for electricity generation will be fueled by natural gas because gas-fired plants are cheaper to construct and permits to construct these plants are easier to obtain as natural gas is seen as having a lower environmental impact than coal-fueled generators. In addition, state and federal mandates for increased use of electricity from renewable energy sources could have an impact on the market for our coal. Several states have enacted legislative mandates requiring electricity suppliers to use renewable energy sources to generate a certain percentage of power. There have been numerous proposals to establish a similar uniform, national standard although none of
these proposals have been enacted to date. Possible advances in technologies and incentives, such as tax credits, to enhance the economics of renewable energy sources could make these sources more competitive with coal. Any reduction in the amount of coal consumed by domestic electric power generators could reduce the price of coal that we mine and sell, thereby reducing our revenues and materially and adversely affecting our business and results of operations.