Skip to content

U.S. coal-fired power plants scheduled to shut

Reuters, 22 October 2013

U.S. power companies have shut or converted about 16,000 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired power plants since 2009 and have plans to shut or convert more than 38,000 MW over the next 10 years or so.

    Cheap natural gas prices and strict environmental rules have made coal the
more expensive option in some areas.
    Eventually, the switch away from coal may shut 60,000 MW to 100,000 MW of
power generation across the country, according to industry estimates.
    In 2012, low gas prices from record shale production depressed power prices
to at least 10-year lows, making it uneconomic for generators to install new
environmental controls on their oldest and smallest coal plants.
    Those controls are needed to keep the units compliant with federal
environmental rules proposed since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.
    There are about 318 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power plants in the United
States, about 30 percent of the nation's 1,051 GW generation fleet.
    The share of generation fueled by coal in 2013 is expected to rise to 39.7
percent from 37.4 percent in 2012, then rise to 40.5 percent in 2014, according
to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) short-term energy outlook
in October.
    Coal produced over half of the nation's power as recently as 2003.
    EIA projected the share of generation fueled by gas in 2013 will average
about 27.4 percent, down from 2012's average of 30.4 percent on forecasts that
higher gas prices will prompt generators to burn more coal.
    In 2014, EIA projects gas used in power generation will slip to 26.6
    The following lists the U.S. coal plants expected to shut over the next
decade or so.