coal


Xcel Energy's Sherco Generating Station Coal Power Plant Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets

, Senior Energy Analyst

Nearly two-thirds of the United States’ power plants operate in competitive wholesale markets.  Market rules typically prescribe that only the cheapest set of resources may run—nowadays, those are often renewable energy resources. Despite a growing trend of coal losing on cost to renewables and natural gas, coal generation remains a dominant player in many of these markets. Read more >

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Self-Scheduling: How Inflexible Coal is Breaking Energy Markets

, Senior Energy Analyst

Over the past year, I have looked at the hourly operations of over one-third of the coal fleet in the US and have come to a startling conclusion: Each and every one of the coal units I have investigated have been uneconomic for at least one month. That is, the costs to operate them in a given month exceeded the revenues they earned in the energy market that same month.

Financially, most (if not all) of these coal plants would have been better off turning off.

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Photo: WildEarth Guardians/Flickr

How Securitization Can Help Achieve a Just Transition for Coal Communities

, senior energy analyst

Over the years, I’ve written and spoken extensively about the urgency of providing a fair and equitable transition for coal-impacted communities as we collectively move towards a clean energy economy. This includes not just the workers at the coal-fired power plants, but also the mine workers that feed those plants, as well as the communities surrounding those plants and mines that depend on the coal industry for their economic livelihoods. Given the scale of the climate crisis, it is imperative to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean energy as quickly as possible. But the cost of this transition should not be borne solely by coal communities and workers, not does it have to be. By coupling clean energy commitments with the careful and targeted use of a powerful and somewhat lesser known financial tool called securitization, states can do both: accelerate the transition to clean energy and ensure that impacted coal workers and coal communities don’t get left behind.

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Photo: WildEarth Guardians/Flickr
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Photo: US Air Force

Illinois’ Energy Future: Less Coal, More Renewables

, lead Midwest energy analyst

Yesterday the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency submitted a proposal to set stricter air pollution limits in the ongoing state rulemaking over Dynegy-Vistra’s fleet of coal-fired power plants in Illinois.

The proposal is a good thing for lowering harmful air pollution. Dynegy-Vistra has also discussed the possibility of retiring some of its remaining coal-fired units in the near future.

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Photo: US Air Force
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What’s Hiding in Your Electric Bill? How Utility Customers Finance Risky Investments

, Senior Energy Analyst

Utilities are expected to make investments that are prudent and in the public interest; in return, they get to recover those costs plus a profit. All the utility investments, operating costs, and profits get pooled together and are reflected in customer utility bills. Expenditures that aren’t “prudent” and “in the public interest” (two key terms in the industry) don’t get to be recovered. But many utilities have found a way to get around guidelines and force customers to finance fossil fuel infrastructure, lobbying, and power plants that aren’t even built yet. Read more >

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