Coal Tattoo

Ripe for retirement: Report targets coal plants

Here’s some news out this morning from the folks at the Union of Concerned Scientists:

As much as 18 percent of the country’s coal generating capacity should be considered for closure because the electricity it produces will be more expensive than energy from lower cost natural gas or wind power, according to a new independent analysis released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The peer-reviewed study, based on publicly available data on the U.S. coal fleet, used an economic test to evaluate whether every coal generator could compete – after being upgraded with modern pollution controls – with available cleaner, lower-cost energy resources.

The report, “Ripe for Retirement: The Case for Closing America’s Costliest Coal Plants,” found that as many as 353 coal generators, located in 31 states, may no longer be economically viable after they are upgraded with modern pollution controls. The power these generators produce would cost more than electricity produced by natural gas power plants and, in many cases, wind power. Collectively, these ripe-for-retirement generators produce approximately 6 percent of the nation’s power and represent 59 gigawatts (GW) of power generation capacity.

Steve Frenkel, report co-author and director of UCS’s Midwest office, said:

Our analysis shows that switching to cleaner energy sources and investing in energy efficiency often makes more economic sense than spending billions to extend the life of obsolete coal plants … Regulators should require utility companies to carefully consider whether ratepayers would be better off by retiring old coal plants and boosting electricity generation from natural gas and renewable energy sources like wind. Spending billions to upgrade old coal plants may simply be throwing good money after bad.