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SNL Research Sees Coal Conversions and Retirements Gaining Momentum

October 20, 2014

SNL REPORTS TODAY ON A WAVE OF PLANT CONVERSIONS and closures sweeping the coal-fired electricity industry.

The SNL reporters who wrote the article—Michael Niven and Neil Powell—note that while “pro-fossil fuel” interests blame the EPA, “coal retirements are occurring for market and economic reasons, including the influx of cheap natural gas that has made coal-fired base load generation less competitive and continued advances in renewable generation.”

The article is illustrated by a number of deeply researched table and maps. They show, region by region, shutdowns from January 2011 through October of this year.

Niven and Powell calculate that from 2011 to 2013, according to SNL Energy data, 12,000 megawatts of U.S. coal-fired will have been converted to alternative fuel sources. They write that 2012 saw the largest number of coal-plant retirements but that 2015 will likely set a new record.

They note also that NRG Energy, which runs coal-fired plants in the Northeast, is leading the conversion movement.


  • “The influx of coal unit conversions in the U.S. power sector heaps more pressure on coal producers already facing a dwindling customer base caused by the permanent retirement of a large number of coal-fired units.”
  • “Since 2009, nearly 25,000 MW of U.S. coal capacity has permanently retired, according to SNL Energy, and plans have been formalized to shut nearly that much between now and 2022.”
  • Companies with the most planned coal unit closures between 2014 and 2018 include American Electric Power Co. Inc., which has been among the loudest critics of the EPA’s CO2 rule, and Tennessee Valley Authority, which has said it will have trouble meeting EPA’s carbon regulation, even with more than 5,500 MW of its coal capacity due to retire.”

Here’s the full article (subscription required).

—Karl Cates
[email protected]
Twitter @iiefa_institute




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