200 Coal Fired Plants to Shut Down?

That’s the word according to a report from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. The Daily Caller has the story, saving us the trouble of reading the report:

Within the next three to five years, more than 200 coal-fired electric generating units will be shut down across 25 states due to EPA regulations and factors including cheap natural gas, according to a new report by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

We recently wrote about the loss of 1,200 coal industry jobs. The closure of 200 power plants, and the impacts on the coal industry, is going to cost a lot more than 1,200 jobs. It’s also a lot of electricity. The report states that as much as 36,000 megawatts (MW) of coal-based electricity may be loss due to the the so-called war on coal. By comparison, the Solar Energy Industries Association reports that the U.S. today has only about 5,700 MW of installed solar electric capacity. Although the solar industry is young, and growing rapidly, compensating for 36,000 MW of coal is going to be difficult. I assume that most of it will come from natural gas.

The war on coal, as Obama Administration and EPA critics have labeled the ongoing efforts to control power plant emissions, is gaining traction in the presidential and congressional races. Matter of fact, the state of the coal industry may swing the vote in three big states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. And don’t doubt for a second that folks aren’t willing to make political hay out of this issue:

On Friday, the coal industry caught a slight break as the House voted 233 to 175 to stop the Obama administration’s so-called “war on coal,” passing a bill that would limit the EPA’s regulatory authority over greenhouse gases and limit the Interior Department’s ability to issue coal mining rules.

This House bill isn’t going anywhere, of course, since the Democrats control the Senate. But that’s not really the point (the point is to highlight the issue for political reasons).

Who knows what will happen in November, but regardless of the election I think the future is one where the coal industry continues to shrink, coal jobs continue to be shed, the U.S. loses tens of thousands of MWs of coal-generated electricity, and electricity rates rise.

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