Is AES part of a trend for coal-fired plants?
DRESDEN—In a small community, the closing of a facility like AES Greenidge can have a big impact.
That is what parent company AES AEE2 LLC wants to do, because the plant is losing money. But is AES alone in this claim? The plant’s potential closing may be part of a bigger, nationwide trend facing many coal burning plants.
“Certainly, as a result of decreases in natural gas prices coupled with increased regulatory requirements, it is becoming more difficult for coal plants nationwide to compete like they have in the past,” said James Denn, public information officer for the New York State Public Service Commission.
He explained that when it comes selling wholesale power, whoever has it cheapest will make money. However, Denn said it is hard for coal burning power plants when natural gas is cheaper.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, between 2001 and 2008, coal powered plants have gone down across the country, while natural gas plants have gone up. The EIA collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information for the benefit of the industry.
In 2008 there were 599 coal burning power plants in the U.S., down from 645 in 2001. According to the EIA, there were 1,653 natural gas plants in 2008, up from 1,576 in 2001.
SourceWatch.org, a project between CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy, noted more coal plants closed in 2010. According to the Web site nine coal burning facilities already closed this year. The information was gathered from newspaper articles covering the closings.