MJB&A's Christopher Van Atten was quoted in two recent articles that asked whether there is truly a "war on coal." While political debate has framed the issue in black-and-white terms, the realities of coal plant retirements are much more nuanced, the articles say.
"Natural gas often sets the price of electricity, and wholesale prices are down," said Christopher Van Atten, a senior vice president at M.J. Bradley & Associates who has studied coal plant shutdowns. "That reduces the profitability of a coal-fired generation facility and makes it cheaper to run on natural gas."
Already, operators have announced plans to shutter 30 gigawatts of coal plants, about 10 percent of the nation's capacity, by 2016.
M.J. Bradley's Van Atten said that based on discussions with industry officials and analysts, many of those closures wouldn't be reversed even if EPA regulations vanished tomorrow. "There are some clear situations where the retirement of a plant is driven by regulations or you can tease out exactly what the cause was," he said. "But in many cases it's a combination of these factors."
A September 26 article appeared on CSMonitor.com.
An October 17 article appeared on Bloomberg.com.