Coal-fired power plants, long the mainstay of the electric generating fleet, have been retiring in record numbers over the past several years and more are planning to close in the years ahead. This is a dramatic reversal for what was once the leading source of electricity production in the country.In 2016, U.S. coal plants accounted for just 30 percent of total generation output, according to government figures—2016 was a year of record low natural gas prices in the U.S. contributing to the decline in coal generation.
This issue brief details M.J. Bradley’s latest tracking of coal plant retirement announcements, including case studies of recent plant closures. The issue brief also discusses the factors that are leading companies to shutter their operations. The issue brief concludes with a discussion of the current outlook for coal generators and the potential reliability implications of coal plant retirements.