The Coal Fleet
The coal fleet has been the foundation of the American electricity grid and continues to be an integral part of the evolving energy landscape. Currently, the coal fleet is responsible for over 20 percent of U.S. electricity needs. With an infrastructure network that includes a complex transmission system, and access to highways, railways, and waterways, the coal fleet provides consistent, dispatchable, fuel-secure power on a 24/7 basis. It is critical to maintaining affordable electricity prices, and a reliable and resilient electricity grid.
Reliability is all about keeping America’s lights on. A more reliable grid is one with fewer and shorter power interruptions.
Coal is fuel secure and dispatchable 24/7/365. Coal is not dependent on weather or just-in-time fuel delivery.
Resilience focuses on extreme disturbances with potentially catastrophic consequences. According to FERC, a resilient grid has the “ability to withstand and reduce the magnitude and/or disruption of disruptive events, which includes the capability to anticipate, adapt to, and/or rapidly recover from such an event.”
With on-site fuel and the ability to dispatch 24/7, maintaining existing coal capacity is a simple and cost-effective way to promote grid resilience. The continuing retirement of fuel-secure electricity sources may be making the grid less resilient to major disturbances that could interrupt electricity for prolonged periods of time. Fuel security — ensuring that fuel is always available to generate electricity — enables the grid to absorb and recover quickly from manmade or natural disturbances that otherwise could have severe, possibly catastrophic, consequences.
The coal fleet helps to keep electricity prices affordable. States that rely on coal for most of their electricity pay lower electricity prices than the national average.
We believe that a technology-based strategy is the most realistic way to reduce carbon emissions. To succeed, such a strategy must be based on sustained investments and allow adequate time to develop and deploy technologies, including carbon capture utilization and storage.
America’s Power supports an “All of the Above” energy strategy because each electricity resource― coal, natural gas, nuclear, renewables, and storage technology ― complements each other in different ways to provide reliable and affordable electricity.