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A blow-by-blow of the U.S. coal phase-out

April 01, 2017
Seth Feaster
Document

Key Findings

Across 16 states in the US, 46 coal-fired generating units and 25 electricity plants were shut down or likely to be closed or converted to natural gas production in 2017 and 2018.

The hardest-hit mining regions are the Powder River Basin and the Illinois Basin.

In the Powder River Basin, Peabody Energy alone will lose 4.9 million in coal sales spread over nine plants in 2018 alone.

Executive Summary

At least 46 coal-fired generating units at 25 electricity plants in 16 states will likely close, convert to natural gas, or be intentionally curtailed in 2017 and 2018 as the U.S. electricity sector moves increasingly away from coal and toward other sources of power.

These changes will have an adverse impact on the coal-mining industry—and on certain mines and companies in particular—eliminating about 28.2 million tons of annual demand by the end of 2018, an amount of coal worth nearly $1.1 billion, delivered, at 2016 prices.

This research brief presents plant-by-plant likelihoods and the corresponding effects on the companies and mines that supply those plants, which are in Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Producers in two major mining regions will be especially hard hit: those in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana and those in the Illinois Basin. Coal-mining operations in the Four Corners region of the Southwest U.S. will also feel sharp effects from plant closings. Those with operations in Appalachia and the Uinta Basin of Utah, two regions already reeling from loss of demand, will be affected as well.

The two U.S. coal producers that stand to be the most affected by the plant closings are the two biggest: Peabody Energy and Cloud Peak Energy. Other affected companies include Westmoreland Coal, Alliance Resource Partners and Foresight Energy.

Press release: Michigan’s Biggest Utility Is Phasing Out Coal

Please view full report PDF for references and sources.

Seth Feaster

Seth Feaster is an energy data analyst whose work focuses on the coal industry and the U.S. power sector.

Before joining IEEFA, he created visual presentations at the New York Times for 25 years with a focus on complex financial and energy data; he also worked at The Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

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