Today our friends at the Union of Concerned Scientists released an impressive report showing that as many as one-third of U.S. coal plants are due for retirement because they are outdated, lack modern pollution controls, and can no longer compete in the marketplace with other forms of energy.
The report details the range of up to 641 coal-fired boilers — up to 100 gigawatts — that are either recently retired or due for retirement because they are economically uncompetitive compared with more affordable energy sources.
This is an incredible amount of coal-fired generators that are being shown as economy uncompetitive with more affordable energy sources like wind power!
According to UCS:
Plants that are candidates for retirement are typically older, less efficient, underutilized, and more polluting than the rest of the nation’s coal fleet. These generators average 45 years in age, well beyond the 30-year expected life span for a typical coal generator. These plants are less efficient, operating only at 47 percent of capacity, compared with 64 percent for the total U.S. coal fleet. In addition, 70 percent of these generators lack adequate equipment to control the emissions of at least three of the four harmful pollutants examined in the analysis (sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, mercury, and soot).
Retiring these plants will be a great benefit for public health. Less coal means less pollution in our air and water, fewer asthma attacks, and fewer respiratory diseases.
Of equal importance in retiring these coal plants for our public health is ensuring that the transition from coal to clean energy happens in a way that protects workers and communities.
As these coal plants are retired, we call upon the power companies to ensure that communities, workers and families will have a just and stable transition from working with coal to becoming leaders in a clean energy future.
We’ve seen this happen around the U.S. already — from the Centralia community and workers in Washington, to the Tennessee Valley Authority employees and communities in North Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.
In Colorado, labor and environmental groups also collaborated on clean energy policies at the state level, which ultimately ensured that workers from retiring plants had good transition plans.
We are committed to clean energy, and we are committed to good jobs. We applaud UCS for its excellent report and hope power companies see the opportunities they have to benefit public health, local communities, workers, and more by retiring coal and investing in clean energy.