Generation of electricity by natural gas grew dramatically last year, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Low prices for gas and an Environmental Protection Agency push for cleaner burning fuel were the reasons, according to stories by Bloomberg News and PennEnergy News.

Overall electricity consumption in the U.S. dropped from the year before by 2.9%, but at the same time coal-fired generation fell by 20%. To replace this production, utilities increased gas-fired generation by 40%, consuming 703.5 billion cubic feet compared to 503.9 billion the year before.

This brought the share of power generation coming from natural gas up to 30%, while coal declined to 34%, after accounting for 42% in 2010.

Some coal-fired power plants are shifting to natural gas even in coal states as new emissions regulations from the U.S. are expected to close down 100 of the 500 coal plants currently in operation, the New York Times reported.