November 23, 2016 Read More →

U.S. Utilities Stay the Course on Coal-Plant Closings

Darren Sweeney and Garrett Devine for SNL Beta:

Electric utilities throughout the country, by and large, told S&P Global Market Intelligence that they are holding firm to previously announced plans to shutter thousands of megawatts of coal-fired capacity in coming years for economic and environmental reasons.

According to an analysis of SNL Energy data, 46 coal units of more than 100 MW each, totaling 15,600 MW of capacity, have received regulatory approval to retire over the next 12 years. Generators have also announced plans to close other coal-fired units during this period, which have yet to be formally approved by regulators.

Duke Energy plans to retire two Crystal River coal units in Florida in 2018 and all five units at its G.G. Allen facility by 2028. The company is also retiring its 384-MW Asheville coal plant in North Carolina in 2019 and will replace it with the 560-MW Asheville combined-cycle gas plant.

Dominion Resources Inc. also has no plans to back off the planned retirement of two older coal units at its Yorktown plant in the wake of Trump’s victory and despite challenges tied to increased transmission infrastructure needs following the shutdown. Yorktown units 1 and 2, comprising 327 MW, are targeted to be shut down in 2017.

Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman Bonita Harris said the Yorktown units are “aging facilities” that were built in the 1950s and do not meet current emissions limits. The U.S. EPA, in April, granted a one-year extension to exempt the Yorktown units from the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for reliability and other critical reasons. Harris, however, said Dominion still needs to retire the two coal units in April 2017 when the EPA order expires.

“It’s important to know that the MATS rule, which led to the closure of the coal units at Yorktown, is a final rule that has been in place for several years,” Harris said. “It would take several months if not a year or more for the EPA to propose revisions, accept comment, review and respond to comments, and adopt the final language. So a new administration couldn’t just change it easily.” Dominion Virginia Power is known legally as Virginia Electric and Power Co.

FirstEnergy Corp. spokeswoman Stephanie Walton was short and to the point when asked if the company will re-evaluate its plans to sell or shut down coal units following Trump’s election. “Our plans for those plants have not changed,” Walton said.

Another utility staying the course is Tennessee Valley Authority, which said it has not changed plans to retire coal units at the Johnsonville and Paradise plants in 2017 as part of a 2011 agreement with the EPA. The TVA also plans to retire its 750-MW Thomas H Allen coal plant in 2018.

Full article: Trump election hasn’t changed utilities’ coal retirement plans

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