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article imageCoal continues its downward slide as more coal-fired plants close

By Karen Graham     Feb 24, 2018 in Environment
More coal plant capacity was shuttered in the first 45 days of 2018 than in the entire first three years of the Obama administration, according to Sierra Club and Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.
FirstEnergy Corporation announced last week its plan to deactivate the coal-fired Pleasants Power Station in Willow Island, West Virginia. The 1,300-megawatt (MW) plant will be sold or closed on January 1, 2019. The plant deactivation is subject to PJM's review for reliability impacts if any. PJM is the regional transmission organization.
The closure is number 268 in a long line of U.S. coal plants that have shut down since 2010. Added to this statistic is the fact that FirstEnergy is just one of several coal plants that have announced they will suspend operations this month. The Sierra Club lauded the closure as a victory in its Beyond Coal campaign, reports Green Tech Media.
The latest announcement signals a trend that is expected to continue through 2018, with over 12 gigawatts of coal power capacity slated for retirement. This would be the most in a single year since 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) 2018 Sustainable Energy in America factbook.
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The downward spiral goes on
In addition to the West Virginia plant, the Sierra Club also announced this month the phase-out of Luminant Energy’s Big Brown plant in Texas and the drawdown of coal burning at Talen Energy’s Brunner Island plant in Pennsylvania.
Ad on February 6, Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power (AEP) released a new report outlining the company's goals for the clean energy future. They include a strategy which would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its power plants to 60 percent below the year 2000 levels by 2030 and 80 percent from 2000 by 2050.
AEP's coal-fired portion of its energy mix has shifted from 70 percent coal-fired 13 years ago to 47 percent this year, while natural gas capacity has increased from 19 percent to 27 percent since 2005. AEP's renewable energy generation has more than tripled, to 13 percent of the company's portfolio.
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