US coal consumption drops to lowest level since 1979 | AP business

Coal Industry Still Failing

The rules required new coal plants to emit no more than 1,400 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour (MWh), a constraint that is almost impossible for new coal generators to meet without carbon-capture technology. President Trump campaigned on a promise to bring back coal jobs and lift regulations he said were throttling the US economy.

A report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected today that 2018 would see the lowest U.S. coal consumption since 1979, as well as the second-greatest number on record of coal-fired power plants shutting down.

As President, he's put forth policies backed by the coal lobby, including repealing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, pulling the US out of the Paris Climate accord, weakening water and air standards and pushing a now-shelved plan to bailout out the coal and nuclear industries on the backs of ratepayers.

The proof is in the numbers, the agency said.

The move is not expected to lead immediately to the construction of new coal plants, which are not financially viable because of cheap natural gas and environmental regulations, the media said. Only a decade ago, there were almost 1,500 coal plant electric generators in the United States that produced about 313 gigawatts. By the end of 2017, 529 of those generators, with a total capacity of 55 GW, had retired.

As it now stands, 2018 will have the second-highest number of coal plant retirements on the books, and another four gigawatts of capacity are expected to retire next year.

National gas production in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia has jumped from 2 percent of the nation's total in 2008 to 27 percent past year, Perry said.

FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young said Wednesday that only one of three units at Bruce Mansfield has been running in the previous year.

It's not just cheaper fuel options that are dooming coal plants.

The move is another indication of the Trump administration's determination to buck both global consensus about the need to act on climate change and market trends, as the President courts what he calls the "beautiful, clean coal" industry. "But investor pressure about climate and financial risk, growing public support for renewables, and the continued declining costs of wind and solar are big reasons why coal is being pushed out of the market", said Environmental Working Group (EWG) president Ken Cook. Instead of investing in emissions control technologies, many smaller power plants that operated at lower capacity factors were retired before the new standards were implemented. Part of that effort has involved repealing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and replacing it with a plan that gives states more power to regulate industry.

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