More than 59 GW of coal-fired generating capacity "ripe for retirement"

A report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says more than 59,000 MW of coal-fired generators should be considered for closure in the U.S.

The report says a coal-fired generator is deemed ripe for retirement if it would cost more to operate it than a natural gas-fired power plant. Up to 353 coal-fired generators in 31 states are ripe for retirement, representing as much as 18 percent of the nation’s coal-fired generation and 6 percent of the country’s power. These kinds of generators are typically older, inefficient and less utilized than the nation’s coal fleet, the report said.

The states with the most generating capacity ready for retirement are primarily in the Southeast and Midwest, with the top five being Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Michigan. The top five power companies with the most ripe for retirement generators are Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), Tennessee Valley Authority, Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), American Electric Power Co. (NYSE: AEP) and FirstEnergy Corp (NYSE: FE).

The report said existing power plants have sufficient excess capacity to replace the electricity produced by the so-called retirement-ready generators. The nation’s current natural gas power plant fleet operated at only 39 percent of its design capacity in 2010. Increasing them to 85 percent capacity would generate more electricity than what is needed to cover the retired generators plus an additional 288 generators already scheduled to close.

To read the entire report, click here.

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