November 29, 2018 Read More →

S&P: No end in sight for coal plant closings

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

Despite presidential efforts to repeal regulations or otherwise boost coal consumption, power generators in the U.S. are set to retire a total of 14.3 GW of coal-fired power plant capacity in 2018, up from 7.0 GW of capacity retired in 2017, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis. This year will mark the highest level of coal retirements since 2015, when the U.S. power companies included in the analysis retired 14.7 GW of coal-fired capacity.

Another 23.1 GW of coal plant retirements have already been announced or received regulatory approval for 2019 to 2024, marking 71.9 GW of coal retired or scheduled to be retired between 2014 and 2024. The analysis shows about 245.6 GW of current operating coal plant capacity in the U.S. and does not include more recent retirement announcements from Entergy Corp. and a city-owned coal plant in Michigan.

Utilities have cited a range of reasons for closing coal plants including higher costs, aging plants, future regulatory uncertainty and public sentiment around the fuel and its contributions to climate change. The trend is expected to continue as aging power plants become increasingly uneconomic, Seth Feaster, an Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis energy analyst, wrote in an October report on coal retirements.

NextEra Energy Inc. Chairman, President and CEO James Robo said on an October call that with government incentives, the new build cost of wind and solar is below the operating cost of existing coal and nuclear power plants in the U.S. and projected it will be lower even without incentives within a decade. “I think this industry has not really internalized yet how disruptive that will be when you see the ability to put to work those kinds of widespread renewables, particularly combined with storage,” Robo said.

More ($): Coal plant closings double in Trump’s 2nd year despite ‘end of war on coal’

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