Coal plant retirements in 2018 more than double 2017 total

Despite moves by the Trump administration to relax regulations on emissions from coal-fired plants, coal plant retirements in 2018 made up the bulk of power generation shutdowns.  Bloomberg photo by Krisztian Bocsi.

Coal plant retirements in 2018 totalled 11,800 MW

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, 16,900 MW of U.S. power generation capacity retired in 2018, much higher than the 11,569 MW retired in 2017.

Coal-fired power generation capacity made up almost 70 per cent, or approximately 11,800 MW, of the 2018 retirements.  2018 coal-fired retirements more than doubled from 2017, when about 5,000 MW were shut down.

Gas-fired resource retirements made up another 22.4 per cent, or 3,789 MW of the shutdowns.

The data shows that by power market region, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc., where Vistra Energy Corp., shut down over 4,000 MW of coal-fired capacity at the beginning of 2018, was home to the largest amount of coal-fired capacity retired last year.

In the PJM Interconnection region, about two-thirds of its coal-fire capacity was retired.  The largest plant retired in PJM was the 1,731 MW J.M. Stuart plant located in Adams County, Ohio.  This facility is co-owned by Vistra, AES Corp., and American Electric Power Co. Inc.

As well, the 1,276 MW St Johns River Power plant in northern Florida was shut down at the beginning of the year.  The power plant is majority-owned by the city of Jacksonville, Fla. and utility company JEA.  WEC Energy Group Inc.’s 1,188 MW Pleasant Prairie plant in Wisconsin was also shuttered.

Exelon Corp., also shut down its 637 MW Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey in September.  The plant, which opened in 1969, was closed because it could not compete with cheaper gas-fired and renewable resources.  Oyster Creek was the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the United States and was the only US nuclear plant to end operations in 2018.

Several other nuclear plants are expected to close down in the coming few years.

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