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In Seeking Federal Bailout, FirstEnergy Does So at Others’ Expense
FirstEnergy’s plea for a government bailout puts the Trump administration in a difficult political position: Whether to rescue a failing industry at the expense of ratepayers and other sectors of the U.S. energy economy or let market forces determine outcomes. Saving the company “would hurt rival energy businesses and could raise electricity prices for companies and consumers across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.”
Editorial: In Praise of ‘Public Vigilance’ Around Upstate Post-Coal Transition
In upstate New York, community advocates of various stripes are pressing for public transparency around the cleanup and redevelopment of the defunct Huntley Generating Station, which must proceed “in a way that both protects and includes the public whose members will have little choice but to live with the results.” Huntley, emblematic of an increasingly uncompetitive U.S. coal-fired electricity-generation fleet, closed two years ago this month.
Arizona Lawmakers Decline to Grant Tax Bailout for Failing Navajo Generating Station
Arizona lawmakers have failed to pass a proposed tax-relief bailout for the Navajo Generating Station, the largest coal-fired power plant west of the Mississippi. Owners of the failing operation, which employees about 750 people between the plant and its feeder mine, plan to close it next year because it cannot compete with natural gas and renewables. Activity at the plant is winding down already, and chances for finding a new owner are diminished by failure on the tax relief. One legislator who opposed the tax break said the millions in question would be better used as an economic-development appropriation to the Navajo Nation.
State Policies and Market Forces Limit What Washington Can Do to Save Coal
Trends in electricity generation are being driving increasingly by state policies that are adding to the larger momentum of market forces. Twenty-nine states have enacted requirements for more reliance on solar and wind which—combined with “the cheap price of natural gas and the rapidly falling cost of renewables,” as one analyst puts it—undermines Trump administration policies and rhetoric aimed at bringing coal-fired electricity back.
In North Carolina, Duke Energy pursues a long-term plan to drop coal
Responsible for about 60 percent of the state’s energy generation 12 years ago, coal’s share of the electricity-generation market in North Carolina has fallen to less than 30 percent, according to the most recent government data. “We take a long-term view on carbon emissions and continue to believe we will need to drive carbon out of our system,” says a representative for Duke Energy, which serves more than a third of the state’s electricity market.
Commentary: North American utility shift driven by ‘good business sense’
A recent industry survey has 80 percent of 600 utility executives in the U.S. and Canada expecting electricity generation markets to continue to embrace clean energy models in a move driven by business practicalities. “Programs to help customers save energy, and solar and wind energy are cheaper in most places than almost any other resource to meet customer energy needs, including coal and gas, and getting cheaper all the time,” writes the author.
As Washington state looks for cleaner power, a Montana coal town faces an uncertain future
As market trends continue to shrink the coal industry and plants shut down, communites are faced with the challenge of transitioning. With two of four units closing by 2022, the community of Colstrip, Montana prepares for the phaseout.
Closed Ohio Plant Sold for Redevelopment
A southern Ohio coal-fired power plant that was retired in 2014 has been sold to a real estate company that plans to redevelop the property. Terms of the transaction around the sale of the Walter C. Beckjord plant site include $750,000 for an economic-development organization in Clermont County. “We're pleased that this historic property is poised for a second act as an integral part of our community,” said the president of Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky. The plant’s first unit went online in 1952.
Commentary: As Technology Advances, Energy Economy Will Continue to Change
Keeping outdated coal-fired power plants on life support is akin to driving antiquated, inefficient automobiles, argues a columnist who describes “changing economics that once lifted coal to market-share dominance but now argue for more cost-effective alternatives.” The author, in making a case for electricity-production modernization, adds that as “technology advances, so too will the composition of our affordable energy production.”
Op-Ed: ‘Time for Navajos to Move on From Coal’
With closure looming for the Navajo Generating Station and its companion Kayenta Mine in northeastern Arizona, the Navajo Nation is faced with a “stark reality” that requires strong leadership around an economic-transition mindset. “Renewable energy is an essential part of the solution for our Navajo economy and jobs after coal,” says the writer.
Op-Ed: Three Trends That Suggest No Coal Comeback
Three distinct trends continue to work against the U.S. coal industry. One is a rapid rise of black lung among miners in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, where old coal seams that are increasingly difficult to tap are creating new health hazards, according to research by Stone Mountain Health Services. Two is national momentum toward retirement of the aging fleet of U.S. coal-fired electricity generation stations. Three is a Trump administration plan that is being crafted to bail out failing coal plants. “What seems clear from all three cases is that the coal industry isn’t coming back,” says the author.
Michigan’s Biggest Utility, Buyer of Wyoming Coal, Is Shifting Direction
Consumers Energy, the biggest utility in Michigan and an important customer of Wyoming mines owned by Arch Coal, Peabody Energy, and Cloud Peak Energy, is phasing out its coal-fired generation in favor of other power sources. The utility supplies electricity to more than 60 percent of Michigan’s 10 million residents. “We believe we’re going to be on the right side of history on this issue,” said Consumers CEO Patti Poppe.
In $100 Million Deal, Developer Will Replace Chicago Coal Plant With Online-Shopper Warehouses
The site of a Chicago coal-fired power plant that was shuttered in 2014 has been sold to a development company that plans to spend $100 million to turn the 70-acre location into a warehouse complex for online shoppers. Crawford Power Generating Station, which opened in the 1920s, was one of the last two coal-fired plants in Chicago at the time of its closure.
2017: A Year of Growing National Momentum Against Coal Industry
Changes in utility-company policies and outright plant closures in Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, Texas, and Wisconsin highlight the electricity-generation transition that gained momentum nationally in 2017: “While President Donald Trump’s ‘Energy Dominance’ agenda gave the false impression that federal efforts could revive coal, 27 coal-fired plants totaling 22 gigawatts (GW) of capacity were announced for early closure or conversion in 2017 – roughly one every 15 days since Trump’s election.”
Colorado Coal-Fired Plant May Shut 17 Years Ahead of Schedule
A Northern Colorado power plant, in Larimer County, could close 17 years ahead of schedule as the result of a review by its owner, the Platte River Power Authority, which is looking at cleaner and more affordable options. The plant is a significant customer of coal producers in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.
Montana Plant, $2 Million in Arrears on Local Taxes, Will Close Next Year
The owner of a relatively new coal-fired power plant in Montana says it will probably close next year after having lost money since 2014. The closing will affect about 30 people and will put the company, Heorot Power, further behind on $2 million in delinquent tax obligations to local schools and government.
Colorado City Considers Closing Coal Plant a Decade Earlier Than Planned
The City Council has directed Colorado Springs Utility to “analyze possibilities” for closing the city’s coal-fired power plant in 2025, a decade soon than planned. Colorado regulators have ruled that the 80-year-old Martin Drake Power Plant, considered a blight on the downtown area, is out of compliance with air-pollution standards.
Duke Energy Will Spend $200 Million in North Carolina to Retrofit Older Coal Plants to Burn Gas
Duke Energy Corp., in a move to keep four North Carolina coal-fired electricity plants on line, says it will spend $200 million over the next three years to retrofit the plants to burn natural gas. “It gives us the opportunity to take advantage of lower fuel costs,” a company spokesman said.
Little Progress in Campaign to Save Largest Coal Plant in the West
"Our economic assessment remains the same today," says a spokesman for one of several owners of the Navajo Generating Station. "Operating the plant beyond 2019 would not be beneficial for their customers."
No Takers for Power Plant in Arizona
Peabody Energy, which is seeking to find a buyer to save the Arizona power plant it is supplying from closure, has not found any takers. The Navajo Nation leases the site of the Navajo Generating Station to a group of utilities that are losing money on the plant, which employees almost 1,000 people, including those who work for the mine that feeds it.