Natural gas has become the fuel of choice for generating electricity in the United States.

As of 2016, natural gas accounted for the production of 34 percent of the nation's electricity, overtaking coal for the first time, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Cheap and abundant natural gas has disrupted electricity markets by creating sustained and low wholesale prices, which have fallen to the point where some coal and nuclear power plants are now operating at a loss.

The natural gas boom coincided with new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations for coal plants to reduce pollution, prompting some plants to close rather than make costly upgrades. It also came at a time when renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are making significant inroads into the nation's power generation mix.

Some 531 coal-fired power plants were closed from 2002 to 2016, while five nuclear power plants with a total of six reactors have been closed since 2013.

In the DOE's report, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the continued closure of traditional baseload power plants calls for a comprehensive strategy to provide long-term reliability and resilience on the grid.

Read more about the shift -and the DOE's response - at the Denver Business Journal.