The Growing Trend Against Coal-Fired Power Plants (USA)

Dec 1, 2007
The past year has witnessed a remarkable and growing rejection of efforts to increase the USA's reliance on coal as a source for power. Just a few years ago a new coal rush was widely predicted. Today communities throughout the country are rejecting this 19th century approach, due to concerns about escalating construction costs, uncertainty regarding the cost of future carbon dioxide regulations, and the economic and environmental benefits of cleaner energy sources. As the investment company Citigroup stated in its recent decision to downgrade coal stocks, "prophesies of a new wave of Coal-fired generation have vaporized" and the industry is "likely to be structurally impaired by new regulatory mandates applied to a group perceived as landscape-disfiguring global warming bad guys."

Following are some of the coal plant proposals that have been scrapped since September 2006:

1. Sunflower Electric Power Corporation (Kansas) - proposed 1,400 megawatt (MW) coal plant denied air permit by Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) due to concerns about global warming. The Director of KDHE stated that it would be "irresponsible" to ignore global warming concerns when evaluating whether to build a new plant. October 2007.

2. Southwestern Power Group's Bowie Power Station (Arizona) - proposed 600 MW IGCC coal plant canceled by company in favor of pursuing a natural gas fired plant, in part because of market economics and regulatory uncertainty. September 2007.

3. Florida Power & Light's Glades Power Plant (Florida) - proposed 1,960 MW power plant rejected by Florida Public Service Commission due, in part, to the uncertainty over the cost of future carbon regulations. July 2007.

4. American Electric Power and Oklahoma Gas & Electric's Red Rock Generating Station (Oklahoma) - proposed 950 MW plant rejected by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for failure to evaluate alternatives such as natural gas. September 2007.

5. Tenaska's Sallisaw Electric Generating Plant (Oklahoma) - company cancelled its plans to build a 660-880 MW plant on the grounds that it is not economically viable. July 2007.

6. Peabody Coal Company's Thoroughbred Generating Station (Kentucky) - air permit for 1500 MW plant reversed by Franklin Circuit Court due to inadequate air pollution control analysis. August 2007.

7. Seminole Electric Power Cooperative's Seminole 3 Generating Station (Florida) - proposed 750 MW plant rejected by Florida Department of Environmental Protection on the grounds that the plant would not minimize environmental and public health impacts, and would not serve the public interest. August 2007.

8. Great Northern Power Development's South Heart Power Project (North Dakota) - applicant withdrew air permit application for 500 MW plant. August 2007.

9. Florida Municipal Power Agency's Taylor Energy Center (Florida) - proposed 800 MW plant withdrawn by applicant shortly after Florida PSC denied application for Glades Power Plant. July 2007.

10. TXU Corporation (Texas) (March 2007) - as part of a buyout of TXU Corporation by private equity firms, TXU announced that it would abandon plans for eight out of eleven proposed plants in Texas. July 2007.

11. Indeck Energy Service's Elwood Energy Center (Illinois) - US EPA's Environmental Appeals Board reversed the air permit for a proposed 660 MW plant. Sept. 2006.

12. Duke Energy's Cliffside Steam Station Modernization (North Carolina) - proposal for one of two 800 MW coal-fired plants rejected by North Carolina Utilities Commission, due to increase in estimated construction costs. March 2007.

13. Westar Energy's Coal Plant Project (Kansas) - company deferred plan for new 600 MW plant because of significant increase in estimated construction costs. December 2006.14 Westar later launched a 300 MW wind power project, Kansas' largest. Wind project is expected to be producing energy by the end of 2008, with possibility of an additional 200 MW available by year end 2010. October 2007.

14. Idaho Power (Idaho) - company canceled plans produce 250 MW from coal-fired plants by 2013; adopted new plans to develop a natural gas turbine in Idaho by 2012, and to add 101 MW of wind power and 45.5 MW of geothermal power by 2011. November 2007.

15. Avista Utilities (Washington) - company plans to sell more electricity generated by natural gas plants and wind turbines, and not invest in new coal power plants. Avista's twenty-year plan, as submitted to the state government, includes the sale of some 275 MW available from a natural-gas power plant in Lancaster, WA. September 2007.

16. Xcel Energy (Colorado) - company agreed to obtain 775 MW of wind power to supplement power from 750 MW coal plant it is building near Pueblo, CO. July 2007.

17. Xcel Energy (Colorado) - company plans to roughly double its renewable generation capacity by 2015 and close two coal-burning plants in the state, the Araphoe Generating Station in Denver and the Cameo Generating Station east of Grand Junction.