Bye, Bye Dirty Coal Plants

In December, The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released long awaited national regulations that limit emissions of mercury, lead and other toxic pollutants from power plants.

It’s already leading to the closure of the country’s dirtiest, oldest coal plants.

FirstEnergy Corp. announced it’s closing 6 of its 17 coal plants, which generate 10% of its electricity. Plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland will close by September 1.

The utility decided it was more cost-effective to close the coal plants rather than pay for the required updates.

Dozens of plants in the coal belt (Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia) and the Midwest are expected to close.

"Make no mistake, these plants were operating well-beyond their intended lifespan for a reason: it has been cheap to be dirty," says Henry Henderson, Midwest Program Director for the Natural
Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "And utilities have taken advantage."

Although about 500 jobs will be effected, most of the workers will be transferred to other duties and FirstEnergy will ultimately create more jobs through its investments in clean energy, he said.

80% of FirstEnergy’s energy comes from coal and nuclear. It has upgraded its other coal plants.

Another utility, American Electric Power, announced it’s closing five coal plants by 2014.

Although some will use this to rally against environmental regulations, in fact, the plants that are closing have been used less and less. Electricity demand is declining in the US because of
the slow economy and the success of energy efficiency programs.

Coal prices have actually been rising because of demand from China, but natural gas prices are at the lowest level in decades. Many utilities are switching to natural gas.

It took the EPA 20 years to issue the new rules because of industry resistance. It finally issued it under a court order. The rule simply requires the biggest polluters in the US – coal- and oil-fired power plants – to install pollution prevention technology.

Here’s more on the rule:

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Comments on “Bye, Bye Dirty Coal Plants”

  1. WoJo Hois

    This is great news – especially if you don’t want electricity 24/7. Too bad wind and solar are so unreliable and uneconomical. We still need fossil fuel to back up every mW of so-called “clean energy.”

    Reply
  2. Energy Eagles

    This is a great event. Too bad is not getting much attention because of the Republican primary circus. FYI. For solar and wind generation, did you ever hear of storage mediums?

    Reply

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