NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Jan 29, 2013) - As a result of plummeting natural gas prices and new carbon emission limits many U.S. utilities increased the use of natural gas for electricity in 2012. For the 12 months ended September 30th, data from the Energy Information Administration has shown that natural gas accounted for approximately 30 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S., while coal accounted for 37 percent. Five Star Equities examines the outlook for companies in the Utilities Industry and provides equity research on Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) and The Southern Company (NYSE: SO).
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In comparison, a decade ago electricity generated from coal and natural gas was 50 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Despite cheap natural gas prices utilities have begun to diversify their energy portfolios to help protect themselves from future uncertainties. Natural gas's surge between 2002 and 2008, which saw prices nearly triple, forced power companies to raise electricity prices abruptly.
Southern Co. has begun building a coal-gasification power plant and a nuclear power plant, which are expected to be in use between 40 years and 60 years. American Electric Power's Chief Executive Nick Akins is targeting an electricity generating portfolio consisting of 35% coal, 30% natural gas, and the remaining from "mixed sources and conservation" according to the Wall Street Journal.
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Duke Energy offers investors an annual dividend of $3.06 per share for a dividend yield of approximately 4.5 percent. The company is scheduled to release its fourth quarter and full year 2012 results before market open on Wednesday, February 13th. Shares of Duke Energy are up 6.5 percent year-to-date.
With 4.4 million customers and more than 43,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company is the premier energy company serving the Southeast through its subsidiaries. The company has recently declared a quarterly dividend of $0.49 per share. The Southern Company is scheduled to release its fourth quarter results on Wednesday, January 30th.
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