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U.S. Coal Plants Close As Cheap Shale Gas Is Making Coal Uncompetitive

Houston Chronicle

Coal-fired power plants in the United States are closing because they’re more expensive to operate and maintain than cheaper forms of power such as natural gas-fueled generation, according to a new government study.

The Department of Energy reported that coal plants have been facing a general decline as low natural gas prices have made natural gas-fueled generators more competitive.

U.S. coal-fired electric generating capacity peaked at nearly 318 gigawatts in 2011 but declined to 257 gigawatts in 2017. One gigawatt provides enough electricity for about 700,000 homes.

The federal agency expects more coal-fired generators to retire especially in the next decade as natural gas-fueled generators become more efficient and natural gas prices remain low.

The study predicts about 90 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity will retire between 2019 and 2030 with the units that are the most expensive to operate and maintain the first to close.

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