Coal Plant Retirements are Bad News for Electricity Bills

We are seeing a growing number of news articles forecasting rising electricity bills, among them the Wall Street Journal’s “Electric Bills Soar Across the Country as Winter Looms.” The article, which addresses the looming crisis of high utility bills this winter, notes that part of the reason natural gas is less available and affordable lies in the limited ability power producers have to burn coal, due to “supply constraints and plant retirements.”

Unless our policies change, that is only going to get worse. Almost half the nation’s coal fleet (93,000 megawatts) is scheduled to close by 2030, and forthcoming Environmental Protection Agency regulations are set to accelerate the pace of closures unless moderated. Meanwhile, China, the world’s largest GHG emitter, continues to grow its coal fleet, which is already five times larger than America’s.

The grid is transitioning; that is a given. But the coal fleet provides reliable electricity and is essential to helping secure America’s energy future. A rushed transition that makes energy unaffordable for millions and leaves people without power when they need it most, will be looked back upon as a failure.