Coal / Energy

Utilities speed up closure of coal-fired power plants

Wind, solar and natural gas become more cost-competitive, driving shift to new energy sources

MERRILLVILLE, IN — “Northern Indiana Public Service, part of NiSource Inc., concluded that phasing out coal sooner was worth it because it would move the company to what is becoming a cheaper source of power, and ultimately reduce costs for its 470,000 customers by as much as $4 billion over 30 years. The transition would require raising average rates by a
proposed $11 a month starting later this year, because of higher short-term costs associated with closing the plants, but the company expects the shift would reduce its overall generation costs starting in 2023.

‘We’ll continue to see renewables and other technology become more cost competitive,’ said Joe Hamrock, NiSource’s chief executive. ‘There’s recognition that the market is changing in a fundamental and permanent way.’

The shift is taking place as the Trump administration tries to revive the coal industry by rolling back environmental regulations and easing restrictions on building new plants. Those efforts have done little thus far to curtail the closure of coal plants, which account for the majority of U.S. coal demand. The Energy Information Administration estimated that domestic coal consumption in 2018 fell to 691 million tons, the lowest level since 1979, and expects it to continue dropping this year.”

– Katherine Blunt, Wall Street Journal

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