Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Scientists say 350 coal-fired power plants should be targets for closure since gas and wind are cheaper

About 18 percent of U.S. coal-fired power plants should be targets for closure because the electricity they produce will be more expensive than energy from natural gas or wind, says the Union of Concerned Scientists. Its peer-reviewed study of U.S. coal data used an economic test to determine whether every coal generator could compete with cleaner, lower-cost energy sources after being upgraded with modern pollution controls, a press release says. (Photo from The Charleston Gazette's Coal Tattoo blog)

The report, "Ripe for Retirement: The Case for Closing America's Costliest Coal Plants," found that 353 coal-fired power plants in 31 states "may no longer be viable" even with upgraded pollution controls. The power they would produce would cost more than power generated by natural gas and wind plants. "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," report co-author Steve Frenkel said. "Spending billions to upgrade old coal plants may simply be throwing good money after bad."

The report ranks states and utilities that generate the most coal-fired power that should be considered for closure. The top 10 states where plants should be closed are, in order: Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana, Mississippi and Virginia. Atlanta-based Southern Co. owns the most coal-fired plants ready for retirement, followed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville. Typical plants that the report classifies as "ready for retirement" are "older, less efficient, underutilized and more polluting than the rest of the nation's coal fleet." (Read more)

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