August 21, 2019 Read More →

Texas regulator says state coal production fell 30% in 2018 compared to prior year

Houston Chronicle:

Coal production fell sharply last year as coal-fired power plants closed and natural gas provided a cheaper and cleaner alternative for electricity generators.

The state’s 12 active coal mines produced 25 million tons of coal in 2018, down nearly 30 percent from the 35 million tons in 2017, according to the Railroad Commission of Texas. Each of the mines produced significantly less. At the state’s largest coal mine, the Kosse Mine in Limestone County near Waco, production fell 16 percent to 8.7 million tons from 10.1 million tons.

The Kosse mine is owned by Luminant, the merchant power unit of the Irving company, Vistra Energy. Luminant, citing economic reasons, shut down three coal plants last year with a combined generating capacity of more than 4,000 megawatts — enough to power more than 800,000 Texas homes on a hot summer day. Another coal-fired plant, the Gibbons Creek Generating Station about 20 miles from Bryan, will close for good in October.

The number of active coal mines in the United States has fallen by more than half over the past decade to 671 mines in 2017 from 1,435 mines in 2008, according to the Energy Department. Last year, domestic coal consumption fell to the lowest level since 1978, the Energy Department said.

Coal’s share of power generation is falling, too. In the first half of 2019, coal-fired plants generated about 21 percent for the state’s electricity, compared to 22 percent from wind and 44 percent generated by natural gas, according to the state’s power grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

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