Powder River Basin Coal

IEEFA Research

IEEFA Research Brief: Coal in Decline, Blow by Blow

IEEFA Research Brief: Coal in Decline, Blow by Blow

Plant Closings and the Likely Effects on Specific Companies and Mines

We’ve published a research brief today that presents an expansive snapshot of a moving target: the decline in U.S. coal-fired generation nationally. As global energy markets continue to undergo rapid transformation, change has swept the U.S. as well. Our brief—“U.S. Coal Phase-out, Blow by Blow: Plant Closings and the Likely Corresponding Effect on Specific Companies […]

April 21, 2017 Read More →
IEEFA U.S. Coal Outlook 2017: Short-Term Gains Muted by Prevailing Weaknesses in Fundamentals

IEEFA U.S. Coal Outlook 2017: Short-Term Gains Muted by Prevailing Weaknesses in Fundamentals

Production Declining by as Much as 40 Million Tons; Prices Failing to Benefit Shareholders or Stimulate New Investment; Anemic Exports; Little or No Gain From Regulatory Relief; Increasingly Dim Employment Prospects

We’re out this morning with our annual outlook for U.S. coal markets, and the picture isn’t pretty. We see the potential for some short-lived strength in the current uptick for coal producers but the title of our assessment sums up the larger view: “Short-Term Gains Will Be Muted by Prevailing Weaknesses in Fundamentals.” You can […]

As Texas Coal-Fired Power Plants Close, Powder River Basin Mines Are Losing Their Largest Customers

Trends Will Force Closures and Complicate Efforts by Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal and Peabody Energy to Work Their Way Out of Bankruptcy

CLEVELAND, Aug. 3, 2016 (IEEFA.org) — The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis today published a report detailing how Powder River Basin coal producers are losing their largest customers as Texas power producers turn increasingly to other sources of energy. The report, “Texas’ Outsize Role in the Decline of the Powder River Basin Coal […]

August 2, 2016 Read More →
The Federal Government’s Coal-Leasing Program Is Broken: Here’s How to Fix It

The Federal Government’s Coal-Leasing Program Is Broken: Here’s How to Fix It

Appoint a Price-Setting Commission; Ban Exports; Cancel Some Leases; Eliminate Self-Bonding; Mandate Set-Asides for Mine Clean-up and Miner Pensions; Require Twice-a-Year Audits; Assume Smaller Markets

It’s time for the U.S. to modernize how it manages its publicly owned coal reserves. That’s the essence of comments we’ve filed today with the Department of the Interior as it begins a review of its federal coal-leasing program in the Powder River Basin, a program that has been mismanaged for years at taxpayer expense […]

IEEFA Analysis: Financial Condition of Montana’s Colstrip 1 and 2 Worse Than Previously Known


IEEFA Analysis: Financial Condition of Montana’s Colstrip 1 and 2 Worse Than Previously Known


Costs to Ratepayers Stand to Increase if Puget Sound Keeps Two Coal-Fired Plants Alive

In testimony today to the state Utilities and Transportation Commission in Olympia, Wash., we are presenting fresh analyses that shows how two coal-fired electricity generators in Montana co-owned by Puget Sound Energy are worse investments  than previously known. Over the past several months, IEEFA has documented how Colstrip 1 and 2 have become an increasingly […]

If Peabody Is to Recover, It Must Close More Mines

If Peabody Is to Recover, It Must Close More Mines

The World’s Biggest Private-Sector Coal Company’s Current Turnaround Strategy Won’t Work

Peabody Energy, the largest private-sector coal-mining company in the world, is out with a dismal review today of its 2015 performance. The metrics unto themselves are damning, and Peabody’s plan for turning things around is even worse. In a report we’ve just published (with the Seattle-based Sightline Institute)—“Peabody’s Strategies for Survival Ignore Market Realities and Risks […]

February 11, 2016 Read More →
As the BLM Begins Coal-Lease ‘Listening Sessions,’ a Few Hard Truths Must Be Heard

As the BLM Begins Coal-Lease ‘Listening Sessions,’ a Few Hard Truths Must Be Heard

Ban Coal Exports From the Powder River Basin, for Starters, and Impose a Moratorium on Taxpayer-Subsidized Leases

U.S. taxpayers own the largest remaining domestic coal reserves in the country, valuable resources that sit in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming and that are vital to the energy security of our country. The federal government, sad to say, has been an almost pathologically passive overseer of these resources (read more about […]

August 11, 2015 Read More →
Study Concludes That Colstrip 1 and 2 Are Financially Unviable; Cautions Against Further Expenditures

Study Concludes That Colstrip 1 and 2 Are Financially Unviable; Cautions Against Further Expenditures

In an Era of Low Natural-Gas Prices and Competition From Renewable Energy, Phasing Out Two Coal-Fired Units Is the Best Option for Owners

JUNE 23, 2015 (IEEFA) — An analysis of data on operational costs and energy markets by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis questions the financial viability of the two oldest units at the Colstrip coal-fired power plant in eastern Montana. Colstrip Units 1 and 2, which are owned equally by Talen Montana and Puget Sound […]

June 23, 2015 Read More →
Comments on Proposed Consolidated Federal Oil and Gas and Federal and Indian Coal Valuation Reform, ONRR-2012-0004-0024

Comments on Proposed Consolidated Federal Oil and Gas and Federal and Indian Coal Valuation Reform, ONRR-2012-0004-0024

COAL SOLD FOR EXPORT SHOULD NOT BE EXEMPT FROM FEDERAL ROYALTY PAYMENTS

Comments on Proposed Consolidated Federal Oil and Gas and Federal and Indian Coal Valuation Reform, ONRR-2012-0004-0024 By Tom Sanzillo, Director of Finance, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

May 7, 2015 Read More →
Report – No Need for New U.S. Coal Ports: Data Shows Oversupply in Capacity

Report – No Need for New U.S. Coal Ports: Data Shows Oversupply in Capacity

No Need for New U.S. Coal Ports: Data Shows Oversupply in Capacity (pdf) By Tom Sanzillo, Director of Finance, IEEFA  

November 19, 2014 Read More →

More News and Commentary

Mining Companies Across Biggest U.S. Coal Region See More Declines in Production

S&P Global Market Intelligence: Top producers in the largest U.S. coal basin are guiding investors to further declines in coal volumes from the region in 2018. Three coal companies responsible for producing about three-quarters of the coal that comes out of the Powder River Basin issued guidance that collectively would equal a 1% to 6% […]

February 22, 2018 Read More →

U.S. Coal: ‘Fewer and Fewer Customers’

Bloomberg News: The big problem for Cloud Peak and fellow miners is there are fewer and fewer customers. Between the end of 2011 and 2017, America’s coal-fired power plants lost 15 percent of their generating capacity, from 306 gigawatts to 261 gigawatts. Another 12.5 gigawatts of plants are scheduled to close this year, making 2018 […]

February 20, 2018 Read More →

Wyoming Coal Producer Pins Its Hopes on Asia

S&P Global Market Intelligence: Cloud Peak Energy Inc. is focusing on international markets and the prospect of diminishing utility stockpiles for future coal sales, as limited port capacity and potentially low gas prices threaten 2018 production levels. The coal producer reported a net income of $17.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, a 27.2% […]

February 20, 2018 Read More →

CEO’s Past May Torpedo Company’s Plans to Acquire Wyoming Mines

Casper Star-Tribune: In December, a brand new company called Blackjewel LLC announced plans to buy two Wyoming coal mines. They were considered the “crown jewels” of former coal giant Alpha Natural Resources, and Blackjewel said the mines held promise despite declines in the coal market. By mid-January the fate of that future had hit a […]

February 5, 2018 Read More →

In Colstrip, Montana, a Sense of the Inevitable

KTVH (Helena): The future of the nation’s coal industry was in the spotlight this week during the State of the Union speech, but here in Montana, things seemed much more dim. President Trump declared the war on energy and the war on clean coal over in his speech, but a new report by the Institute […]

February 2, 2018 Read More →

Department of Interior’s Misstatement on Montana Mine Expansion Causes Short-Lived ‘Market Sensation’

Montana Public Radio: We’re getting perspective now on last week’s news that the U.S. Interior Department said it had approved a major coal mine expansion in Montana. It caused the stock of the mining company involved to temporarily spike. Six days later, Interior rescinded its statement, saying no expansion was approved, and the original approval […]

January 4, 2018 Read More →

IEEFA Update: Financial Facts Don’t Support Coal Industry’s Claims of 2017 Recovery

Failed Deals, Financial Losses, and Cancelled Leases Contradict the Rosy Picture Offered by Industry Executives

As 2017 ended, coal industry leaders made a number of upbeat statements to the press and investors, citing what they saw as good news: regulatory rollbacks by the Trump administration, promises of future federal subsidies, improved profits, an increase in coal exports and metallurgical sales, a few loan closings, and a late year stock price […]

January 2, 2018 Read More →

Contura Sale of 2 Wyoming Mines Unlikely to Ease Powder River Basin’s Low-Price Problem

SNL: Coal prices in the Powder River Basin are low, and the recent sale of Contura Energy Inc.’s two mines in the region is unlikely to change that, according to analysts. Seaport Global Securities LLC analysts Mark Levin and Nathan Martin estimated in a Dec. 18 note that about 93 million tons of PRB coal […]

December 19, 2017 Read More →
IEEFA Update: Another Canary in the Coal Mine

IEEFA Update: Another Canary in the Coal Mine

Telling Details in a Deal That Transfers Two Wyoming Mines to an Appalachian Company

In the first negative-value transaction in the Powder River Basin proper, Contura Energy is planning to transfer two coal mines in Wyoming to another company in exchange for royalties from future sales and for the new owner assuming reclamation liabilities. Contura, formed when senior lenders took some assets during Alpha Natural Resources bankruptcy, Eagle Butte […]

December 13, 2017 Read More →

Little-Known Buyer of ‘Crown Jewel’ Powder River Basin Coal Mines Sows Doubt in Wyoming

Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune: The coal company that emerged from the ashes of the Alpha Natural Resources bankruptcy is getting out of the Powder River Basin just a little over a year since its formation. Contura Energy announced Monday that it was transferring its Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines to Blackjewel L.L.C., a private company […]

December 12, 2017 Read More →