More Aging US Coal Plants Hit the Chopping Block

From AlertNet

By Matthew Charles Cardinale

Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the largest utilities in the U.S. south, plans to retire 15 coal and oil-fired energy generating units at four different plants, in the latest sign that a national campaign against coal is gaining traction.

The latest announcement by Georgia Power brings to 129 the total of plant retirements announced for closure – either in whole or in part – since Sierra Club launched the Beyond Coal Campaign in 2002.

The 15 units comprise a total of 2,061 megawatts, one quarter of Georgia Power’s coal fleet.

Georgia Power will seek permission from Georgia’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to close the units, and there is no reason to expect that the PSC will refuse.

The economics of coal are changing, and we’re seeing massive changes in terms of how the U.S. generates its power,” Jenna Garland, associate press secretary for the Sierra Club, a major U.S. environmental lobby group, told IPS.

“In the next few years, we hope Georgia Power will make plans to phase out more of their coal plants and replace them with energy efficiency and clean energy,” she added.

A November 2012 report by the Union for Concerned Scientists titled “Ripe for Retirement: The Case for Closing America’s Costliest Coal Plants” reported that Georgia has the most coal-fired plants that should be considered for closure out of any U.S. state.

“As many as 353 coal-fired power generators in 31 states – representing up to 59 GW of power capacity – are no longer economically viable compared with cleaner, more affordable energy sources,” UCS said in a statement.

In 2011, approximately 42 percent of all electricity in the U.S. was produced by burning coal, the report stated.

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