Utility trends don’t bode very well for fossil-fuel-fired electricity
Two huge interstate electricity companies—Vista Energy and Dominion Energy—are at the forefront of an industry retooling that favors cheap renewable forms of generation over natural gas and coal. The trend embodies “a bearish view of fossil-fuel energy” as solar and wind farms gain market share nationally, “curbing orders for new plants and forcing the closure of old ones.”
Market forces make aging Kentucky coal plant a candidate for shutdown
Characteristic of the coal-fired electricity-generation industry nationally, a locally-sourced Kentucky plant owned by Henderson Municipal Power & Light has been all but mothballed. Expense is the prime factor as officials decide whether to keep it open: “It costs about 33 times more to produce energy from Station Two than it does to buy it on the open market.” Part of the plant has been closed already.
Coal Company With Mines in Five States Gets a Bankruptcy Reprieve, for Now
A cash infusion from creditors will help stave off bankruptcy for Westmoreland Coal, but the company, which owns mines in five states, is still in trouble. “Westmoreland faces many of the same pressures irritating the coal sector nationwide,” reports a Wyoming newspaper, “including competition from cheap natural gas and environmental regulations that made some older coal units too expensive to keep running.”
Court Settlement Marks End of the Road for Chicago-Area Coal Plants
A federal court settlement in Illinois closes the case on six coal-fired plants in the Chicago area that are slated to shut down or switch to natural gas. The case is of note in part because of the Trump administration’s acquiescence to the agreement. “I don't believe (coal) is going to have a renaissance," said one utility executive. "I think it's on its way out."
Opinion: Washington-based Appalachian Regional Commission Should Relocate to West Virginia
A Charleston newspaper columnist advocates for moving the 50-year-old Appalachian Regional Commission to West Virginia, the only state whose borders are entirely within Appalachia. While Kentucky appears favored in a push to relocate the commission to a city in the region, the author argues that West Virginia should not “roll over on this one” and that the state’s governor and congressional delegation “should openly compete for it, starting now.”
A Jobs Pitch in Ohio for a Clean-Energy Economy
An Ohio energy group is calling for great public awareness of the growth potential in the state’s clean-energy sector. Advocates say modernizing Ohio’s power system can enhance grid reliability, create jobs and keep electricity rates under control. “These kinds of policies are going to benefit all Ohioans,” one proponent said.
12,000-Home Solar Project Approved in Wyoming
Sweetwater County Commissioners have approved the biggest solar project on record for Wyoming, the country’s No. 1 coal producer. The 80-megawatt solar farm will cover one square mile and generate enough electricity for 12,000 homes. The project is a subsidiary of a Korean company.
Moody’s: U.S. Utilities Tied to Coal-Fired Business Models Are at Risk
Broad acceptance of renewable energy will drive more coal-fired power plants out of business, says a report from Moody’s Investors Services. “Utilities may be required to shut down carbon-emitting generation assets — particularly coal plants — before the end of their useful lives,” concludes the report, which details how cost and consumer preferences are driving transition.
Three Hard-Hit Kentucky Towns Continue to Weigh Merger
Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch, Ky., “face stark challenges because of declining tax bases and other problems” as they continue to consider the possibility of merging operations to survive. The Tri-City Chamber of Commerce is advocating for the move, in the municipalities’ best interest, and on the strength of a review by the Kentucky League of Cities.
Federal Inquiry Sought Into Westmoreland’s Ability to Deliver on Reclamation Responsibilities
A Montana conservation group has asked the Interior Department to investigate whether Westmoreland Coal has the financial wherewithal to meet its mine-cleanup obligations. Questions have emerged also as to whether the company’s “self-bonding” commitments are sustainable in Texas and Canada. Westmoreland is widely reported to be at risk of bankruptcy.