“One of the Country’s 10 Largest Coal Plants Just Got a Retirement Date. What About the Rest?”

“The largest coal-fired power plants keep on going, even as many smaller ones close.

To survive among the shrinking fleet of U.S. coal-fired power plants, it helps to be extremely big.

By Dan Gearino for Inside Climate News, May 3, 2021

“On April 22, American Electric Power announced that it would close the Rockport Plant in southwest Indiana by 2028, making the plant the only one of the 10 largest in the country that is scheduled to completely shut down before 2030.

“Eight of the top 10 coal-fired plants have no firm retirement dates, even though President Joe Biden has talked about wanting to see a phaseout of fossil fuel-generated electricity by 2035, and most of the plants are owned by companies that have said they are aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050.

“These gargantuan plants, including one with a smokestack about as tall as the Eiffel Tower, remain active for a host of reasons that show market forces alone are sometimes not enough to convince energy companies to shut down assets that they may view as their flagships. Some of the plants are hanging on to life with help from state regulatory systems that allow plant owners to rack up guaranteed returns, slowing the transition to cheaper and less-polluting electricity sources.

“You have a disproportionate share of these coal plants owned by vertical monopolies who are largely insulated from market forces,” said Joe Daniel, a senior energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists….”

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