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Natural Gas Prices See US Coal Power Dying Out

Brian Merchant at treehugger reports today that, at the current rate, coal power in the US will be reduced by 59 – 77 GW by 2016. This is more than double the 30 GW predicted in the recent study by the Brattle Group. Brattle Group themselves have updated their figures.

US Coal Mine ExhibitSweet One / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Merchant quotes David Roberts at Grist who, as well as celebrating the good news, is counteracting the notion that EPA regulations are primarily responsible for the downturn. The report states that the change is:

“primarily due to changing market conditions, not environmental rule revisions, which have trended towards more lenient requirements and schedules”

Roberts himself adds:

Long story short, the regulatory climate for coal is slightly more favorable than expected two years ago. But it doesn’t matter, because “market conditions” are kicking coal’s ass anyway.

The low price and abundance of natural gas is clearly playing a major part in the demise of coal production. Natural gas burns much more cleanly than coal but fracking, the process responsible for this abundance, is a subject of continuing controversy.

Nick Akins, president and CEO of utility company American Electric Power, told the Boone Examiner:

“We will continue to use what we have available to us ………the trend is towards the use of natural gas.”

“there will not be any new coal plants built, with the current price of gas and the forecast for the future for gas.”

Further reading:
Twice as Many Coal Plants Will Be Closed by 2016 Than We Originally Thought – TreeHugger
Yes, coal is dying, but no, EPA is not the main culprit – Grist
AEP CEO, Others Discuss WV’s Energy Future – The Boone Examiner
Potential Coal Plant Retirements: 2012 Update – The Brattle Group

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