AEP / Coal

AEP: Industry “may retire” the equivalent of 50 – 100 big coal plants

COLUMBUS, OH— American Electric Power estimates the electric utility industry “may retire” the equivalent of 50 to 100 big coal plants, according to its 2011 Corporate Accountability Report:

“AEP expects to reduce GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions by an additional 10 percent by 2020 from 2010 levels. In 2010, AEP emitted 134 million metric tons of GHGs from its plants. This will result in a total reduction of approximately 25 percent from 2003 levels, the first year of our [Chicago Climate Exchange] commitment. We will, however, achieve additional GHG reductions as we retire older, less efficient coal units and replace them with new natural gas and/or renewable generation, where supported. Under the EPA’s proposed Transport, Coal Combustion Residuals and Hazardous Air Pollutant rules, AEP may be forced to retire a significant amount of older coal-fired generation in the next several years. The industry as a whole may retire between 50 gigawatts and 100 gigawatts. Some of that generation most likely will be replaced with natural gas plants, which emit about half the carbon dioxide of coal combustion plants.”

A watt is a unit of power, and 1 gigawatt is the same as 1,000 megawatts, the power produced by a typical large coal plant. For AEP to say that the industry may retire between 50 gigawatts and 100 gigawatts means the equivalent of 50 – 100 big coal plants nationwide.

AEP’s new industry estimate is higher than four previous estimates in the last year for the amount of coal capacity projected to retire or “at risk” due to proposed U.S. EPA regulations. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated 9-73 gigawatts (GW) by 2035 (April 2011). The Brattle Group estimated 50-65 GW by 2020 (December 2010). The North American Reliability Corporation estimated 10-35 GW by 2018 (October 2010).  ICF International estimated 75 GW by 2018 (October 2010).

Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action