December 7, 2017 Read More →

Kentucky Utility Sees Coal-Powered Electricity All but Disappearing by 2050

WFPL (Louisville):

Kentucky’s largest electric utility expects to be powered more than 80 percent by natural gas or renewable energy by the middle of this century — regardless of whether the country’s energy policies change.

Last month, PPL — the corporation that owns both Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities — released a climate assessment called for by shareholders.

Assuming a 55-year lifespan for coal-fired power plants, the analysis found approximately 10 percent of LG&E and KU’s fleet would be existing coal plants by 2050. That’s compared with nearly 80 percent today.

If the coal plants are run for 65 years, they account for a slightly larger amount of the fleet’s generation by 2050 — about 18 percent.

“Just by virtue of [economics], you’re going to have substantial reductions and when you look out to 2050, substantial retirements of our coal-fired units will have happened by then,” said PPL spokesperson Ryan Hill.

This report comes as the Trump Administration is weighing the future of the Obama Administration’s carbon dioxide regulations, — regulations which Trump’s team has argued will hurt the U.S. coal industry and power generation.

But at least in terms of LG&E and KU, the regulations will have virtually no effect on how much coal the utilities burn, at least in the long term.

By 2050, the bulk of the LG&E and KU fleet will be new natural gas facilities and renewable energy. There’s not even a category for “new coal” plants on this climate assessment — that’s because Hill said there’s no scenario where new coal plants will make economic sense.

“We have no current plans to build any new coal-fired power plants,” he said. “You’ve seen natural gas prices come down over the past five, six, seven years and that’s really spurred a transition in the generation mix across the country. And certainly we’ve seen that transition begin a bit at our LG&E and Kentucky Utilities companies as well.”

More: Decline in Ky. Coal Plants Regardless of Climate Policy

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