The EIA cited the recession and lower prices for natural gas for a slowdown in coal demand, and anticipated power facilities would burn only 994 million tons in 2009.
Last year, power plants burned more than 1.04Bt of coal, according to Reuters.
"A decline in overall electricity generation, combined with projected increases from natural gas, nuclear and renewable [hydroelectric and wind] generation sources, are projected to lead to a 4.6 per cent decline in coal consumption in the electric power sector this year," the EIA said in its most recent monthly outlook.
The jump is significantly larger than the 2.3% year-on-year decline the agency forecast just last month.
However, it added, coal demand for power is also expected to rise in 2010 with the recovery of the economy. Its forecast for power plant coal-use next year is 1.01Bt.