Record number of U.S. coal-fired power plants shut down in 2019

Posted Jan 13, 2020 by Karen Graham
U.S. coal-fired power plants shut down at the second-fastest pace on record in 2019, lowering carbon dioxide emissions, air pollution, and ozone levels.
The Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association  Inc. Craig Station is located in Moffat County ...
The Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, Inc. Craig Station is located in Moffat County approximately 2.5 miles southwest of the town of Craig, Colorado. This facility is a coal-fired power plant with a total net electric generating capacity of 1264 MW, consisting of three units.
Craig Station/Jimmy (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Power companies retired or converted roughly 15,100 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired electricity generation, enough to power about 15 million homes, according to data provided by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Reuters reporting.
This was second only to the record 19,300 MW shut in 2015 during President Barack Obama’s administration. Coal production in the U.S. has been in steep decline for the past 10 years - due primarily to competition from natural gas which is cheap and abundant.
President Donald Trump has downplayed the impacts of climate change since taking office in 2017, yet an estimated 39,000 MW of coal-fired power plant capacity has shut during his tenure to date. Should this trend continue, more coal-fired power plants will have shut during Trump's first four years (46,600 MW) than were closed during Obama's second term in office (43,100 MW).
This is good news for our health
The closure of hundreds of coal-fired power plants in the past decade has saved over 26,610 lives, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Sustainability.
Besides reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the closures have also lowered air pollution and ozone levels and has even increased nearby crop yields, according to the study led by environmental scientist Jennifer Burney at the University of California, San Diego.
“When you turn coal units off you see deaths go down. It’s something we can see in a tangible way,” Burney told The Guardian. “There is a cost to coal beyond the economics. We have to think carefully about where plants are sited, as well as how to reduce their pollutants.”