Existing U.S. Coal Plants

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This page provides information on existing U.S. coal-fired power plants. For a list of proposed coal plants and coal plants that are under construction, click here.

Overview

The decline of U.S. coal 2012-2016.

For the twelve months ending in March 2013, United States' coal plants produced 1,517,203 gigawatt hours of electricity, or 37.4 percent of total U.S. electricity production.[1] At the peak year of coal's contribution to U.S. power production, 1988, coal produced 57.0% of U.S. power. [2][3] Coal's share in power production has fallen due to major increases in production from natural gas and smaller increases from nuclear and wind.

As of 2011, the Energy Information Administration listed 589 coal-fired power plants in the U.S., down from 633 coal-fired power plants in 2002. Of these 589 plants, 332 were owned by electric utilities, 98 by independent power producers, and the remainder by industrial and commercial producers of combined heat and power.[4] In 2011, U.S. coal plants provided 317,640 MW of net summer capacity.[5]

While the size of the coal fleet steadily shrank from 2001 to 2009, average capacity factor (the ratio of the actual output of a plant to the theoretical maximum output if the plant ran continuously) increased from 69.2 percent in 2001 to 73.6 percent in 2007, before falling to 63.8 percent in 2009.[6]

For more information on coal plant capacity and generation, see Coal-fired power plant capacity and generation.

U.S. coal-fired power production in the global context

In 2011, the U.S. produced approximately 1,875,000 GWh (gigawatt hours) of electricity from coal (one GWh is the amount of power produced by a 1,000 MW power plant running for one hour), accounting for 20.5 percent of the world's coal-fired electricity:[7]

Country 2010 Coal Power Prod. 2011 Coal Power Prod.  % of World Total (2011)
China 3,273,000 GWh 3,723,000 GWh 40.7%
U.S.A. 1,994,000 GWh 1,875,000 GWh 20.5%
India 653,000 GWh 715,000 GWh 7.8%
Japan 304,000 GWh 281,000 GWh 3.1%
Germany 274,000 GWh 272,000 GWh 3.0%
South Africa 242,000 GWh 243,000 GWh 2.7%
Korea 219,000 GWh 225,000 GWh 2.4%
Australia 181,000 GWh 173,000 GWh 2.0%
Russia 166,000 GWh 164,000 GWh 1.8%
Poland 138,000 GWh 141,000 GWh 1.5%
All Other Countries 1,254,000 GWh 1,332,000 GWh 14.6%
World Total 8,698,000 GWh 9,144,000 GWh 100%

U.S. coal production in a global context

The following table represents the world's top coal producers in 2012 by metric tonne (MT). In 2012 the United States produced 935 metric tonnes of coal, a decrease of 7% from the previous year. U.S. production represented 11.9% of the world total.[8]

Country 2011 Coal Prod. 2012 Coal Prod. % of World Total (2012)
China 3,576 MT 3,549 MT 45.3%
U.S.A. 1,004 MT 935 MT 11.9%
India 586 MT 595 MT 7.6%
Australia 414 MT 421 MT 5.4%
Russia 334 MT 354 MT 4.5%
South Africa 253 MT 259 MT 3.0%
Germany 189 MT 197 MT 2.5%
Poland 139 MT 144 MT 1.8%
Korea 117 MT 126 MT 1.6%
All Other Countries 795 MT 808 MT 10.3%
World Total 7,783 MT 7,831 MT 100%

In 2011, U.S. coal-fired power plants produced 1,828 million tons of CO2-equivalents – 31.8% of U.S. CO2 emissions from energy-related activities, and 5.8% of total world CO2 fossil fuel emissions.[9]

Stagnant capacity, declining output

From 1990 to 2009, the net capacity of the U.S. coal-fired power plant fleet remained virtually unchanged, increasing by only 7 Gigawatts (MW) or 2.5% during the entire 17-year period. The output of these plants increased from 1990 to 2007 before falling in 2009. This means that although the existing fleet was not growing in size, plants were being run more intensively. This is reflected in the average capacity factor of the fleet, which rose from 59% to 74% from 1990 to 2007, then fell to 64% in 2009. (Capacity factor refers to the ratio of the actual output of a plant to the theoretical maximum output if the plant ran continuously.)

Coal-fired power plant capacity and generation[10][11]

Year Net Summer Capacity (Gigawatts) Generation (thousand Gigawatt hours) Capacity Factor
1950 N/A 154.5 N/A
1960 N/A 403.1 N/A
1970 N/A 704.4 N/A
1980 N/A 1,161.6 N/A
1990 307.4 1,594.0 59%
2000 315.1 1,966.3 71%
2005 313.4 2,012.9 73%
2007 312.7 2,016.5 74%
2009 314.4 1,764.5 64%
2011 314.4 1,764.5 64%

State-by-state output

Here's a sortable table of U.S. states, ranked by the total amount of electricity each state produced from coal in 2011. To sort the table, click on a column header.[12][13]

State 2005 Power Production (GWh) 2011 Power Production (GWh) Change (%)
Texas 148,759 157,897 6%
Ohio 137,457 105,337 -23%
Indiana 123,985 104,153 -16%
Pennsylvania 122,093 100,603 -18%
Kentucky 92,613 91,656 -1%
Illinois 92,772 90,013 -3%
Missouri 77,714 78,316 1%
West Virginia 91,601 75,964 -17%
Georgia 87,624 60,159 -31%
North Carolina 78,854 59,758 -24%
Michigan 71,871 58,948 -18%
Alabama 70,144 56,807 -19%
Florida 66,378 51,991 -22%
Arizona 40,730 43,702 7%
Wyoming 43,421 40,961 -6%
Tennessee 59,264 40,777 -31%
Wisconsin 41,675 39,938 -4%
Iowa 34,729 38,229 10%
Oklahoma 36,446 34,479 -5%
South Carolina 40,545 34,169 -16%
Colorado 35,671 33,955 -5%
Utah 36,008 33,138 -8%
Kansas 34,595 31,656 -8%
Arkansas 23,356 29,418 26%
Minnesota 34,336 28,259 -18%
New Mexico 29,990 27,141 -9%
North Dakota 29,813 27,109 -9%
Nebraska 20,175 25,965 29%
Louisiana 23,190 24,628 6%
Maryland 29,782 21,059 -29%
Virginia 35,099 19,881 -43%
Montana 17,844 15,056 -16%
Mississippi 16,661 9,723 -42%
New York 22,018 9,426 -57%
Nevada 18,412 5,407 -71%
Washington state 10,483 5,229 -50%
New Jersey 12,090 4,155 -66%
Massachusetts 12,095 4,059 -66%
Oregon 3,588 3,334 -7%
South Dakota 2,999 2,586 -14%
New Hampshire 4,097 2,208 -46%
California 3,024 1,982 -34%
Delaware 5,185 1,455 -72%
Hawaii 1,548 1,424 -8%
Alaska 650 656 1%
Connecticut 3,995 526 -87%
Idaho 51 83 63%
Maine 754 55 -93%
Rhode Island - - 0%
Vermont - - 0%
District of Columbia - - 0%
Total 2,026,184 1,733,430 -14%

Lower family incomes in coal states


The median family income of the top 15 coal-producing states was $44,922 in 2006 ($3,529 below the U.S. median); the median family income of the bottom 15 coal-producing states was $52,833 ($4,382 above the U.S. median).

Size comparison of coal plants

Here's a breakdown of existing U.S. coal-fired generating units by size:[12]

Unit Size # of Units Total Capacity
0-10 MW 37 192 MW
10-20 MW 25 345 MW
20-50 MW 75 2,427 MW
50-100 MW 73 5,269 MW
100-250 MW 85 14,000 MW
250-500 MW 97 34,396 MW
500-750 MW 69 42,655 MW
750-1,000 MW 28 23,612 MW
1,000-1,500 MW 59 72,366 MW
1,500-2,000 MW 38 66,657 MW
Over 2,000 MW 29 73,920 MW


Thus, the 29 plants that are larger than 2,000 MW have a greater generating capacity than the 392 plants that are smaller than 500 MW.

Age comparison of coal plants

Here's a breakdown of existing U.S. coal-fired generating units (not overall plants) by age:[14]

Years Built # of Units Total Capacity (MW)
2005-2009 21 6,785
2000-2004 13 1,382
1995-1999 24 4,372
1990-1994 67 8,638
1985-1989 102 23,734
1980-1984 117 56,105
1975-1979 125 55,879
1970-1974 137 66,466
1965-1969 158 41,656
1960-1964 157 25,310
1955-1959 209 28,883
1950-1954 213 17,518
1940-1949 93 2,583
1930-1939 20 132
1920-1929 10 69
Total 1,466 339,509

The median existing U.S. coal-fired generating station was built in January 1966.

Plant retirements and conversions

The following sortable table lists recent and upcoming (including probable) coal plant retirements and conversions in the United States. In some cases, plants are being converted to use biomass or natural gas. To sort the table by a column, click on the column header. Clicking a second time on the header will reverse the order of the sort.

For plant-by-plant details, see Coal plant retirements.

State Plant Operator Boiler or Unit Year Built Capacity (MW) Retirement Year Notes
AL Colbert Fossil Plant Tennessee Valley Authority 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 1955, 1955, 1955, 1955, 1955 200, 200, 200, 200, 200 4 in 2016, one in 2014
AK Chena Power Plant Aurora Energy LLC 3 1952 2 2009
AL Gadsden Steam Plant Southern Company 1, 2 1949, 1949 69, 69 2011, 2011 Gas and coal
AL Gaston Steam Plant Alabama Power 1, 2, 3, 4 1960, 1960, 1961, 1962 272, 272, 272, 245 2015 Gas
AL Widows Creek Fossil Plant Tennessee Valley Authority 1 - 6, 8 1952 - 1954 7 x 141 2 in 2013, 2 in 2014, 2 in 2015, one not announced
CA Mt. Poso Cogeneration Plant Red Hawk Energy 1 1989 62 2011 biomass
CA Port of Stockton District Energy Facility NextEra Energy Resources 1 1987 54 2013 biomass
CO Arapahoe Station Public Service Company of Colorado 3, 4 1951, 1955 46, 112 2012
CO Cameo Station Public Service Company of Colorado 1, 2 1957, 1960 25, 50 2010
CO Cherokee Station Public Service Company of Colorado 1, 2, 3, 4 1957, 1959, 1962, 1968 125, 125, 170, 381 2017, 2017, 2022, 2022
CO Clark Station Black Hills Energy 1, 2 1955, 1959 18.7, 25 2012
CO Valmont Station Public Service Company of Colorado 5 1964 192 2017
CT AES Thames Generation Plant AES 1 1989 214 2011
DC Capitol Power Plant U.S federal government 1910 2009 natural gas
DE Edge Moor Power Plant Calpine Corporation 3, 4, 5, 10 1954, 1966, 1973, 1963 75, 177, 446, 35 2010 gas
DE Indian River Power Station NRG Energy 1, 2, 3 1957, 1959, 1970 82, 82, 177 2010
FL Crystal River Energy Complex Progress Energy 1, 2 1966, 1969 440, 524 2020
GA Harllee Branch Generating Plant Georgia Power (Southern Company) 1, 2 1965, 1967 299, 359 2013
GA Kraft Plant Southern Company (Georgia Power) 1, 2, 3 1958, 1961, 1965 50, 54, 104 2016
GA McDonough Steam Generating Plant Southern Company (Georgia Power) 1, 2 1963, 164 299, 299 unknown
GA Mitchell Plant Southern Company (Georgia Power) 1 1964 163 unknown
GA Yates Steam Generating Plant Southern Company (Georgia Power) 1, 2, 3, 4 1950, 1950, 1952, 1957, 1958 123, 123, 123, 156, 156 2015
IA Council Bluffs Energy Center MidAmerican Energy 1, 2 1954, 1958 49, 82 2016
IA Dubuque Generating Station Interstate Power and Light (Alliant) 2 1929 15 2010
IA George Neal Station North MidAmerican Energy 1, 2 1964, 1972 147, 349 2016
IA Lansing Power Station Alliant Energy 2, 3 1949, 1957 12, 38 2010
IA Milton Kapp Generating Station Alliant Energy 1 1967 218 2010
IA Pella Municipal Power Plant Pella Municipal Power & Light 1, 2 1964, 1972 11.5, 26.5 2012
IA Prairie Creek Generating Station Interstate Power and Light (Alliant) 2 1951 23 2010
IA Riverside Generating Station (Iowa) MidAmerican Energy 1, 2 1949, 1961 5, 136 2016
IA Sixth Street Generating Station Interstate Power and Light (Alliant) 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 1921, 1930, 1942, 1945, 1945, 1950 10, 6, 15, 10, 15, 29 2010
IA Sutherland Generating Station Interstate Power and Light (Alliant) 2 1955 38 2010
IL Crawford Generating Station Midwest Generation 1, 2 1958, 1961 239, 358 2014
IL Fisk Generating Station Midwest Generation 1 1968 374 2012
IL Hutsonville Power Station Ameren 1, 2 1953, 1954 75, 75 2011
IL Lakeside Station City Water, Light and Power 6, 7 1961, 1965 38, 38 2009
IL Meredosia Power Station Ameren 1, 2, 3 1948, 1949, 1960 58, 58, 239 2011
IL Pearl Station Prairie Power 1 1967 22 2013 biomass
IL University of Illinois Abbott Power Plant University of Illinois T6, T7, T10, T11, T12 195, 1962, 2004, 2004, 2004 8, 8, 7, 13, 13 2017
IL Vermilion Power Station Dynegy 1, 2 1955, 156 74, 109 2011
IL Waukegan Generating Station Midwest Generation 6 1952 121 2007
IL Will County Generating Station Midwest Generation 1, 2 1955 188, 184 2010
IN Dean Mitchell Generating Station Northern Indiana Public Service Co 4, 5, 6, 11 1956, 1959, 1959, 1970 138, 128, 128, 128 2012
IN Eagle Valley Station AES 3, 4, 5, 6 1951, 1953, 1953, 1956 50, 69, 69, 114 2017 Gas
IN Edwardsport Generating Station Duke Energy 7, 8 1949, 1951 40, 69 2011
IN Frank Ratts Generating Station Hoosier Energy 1, 2 1970, 1970 117, 117 2015
IN Gallagher Generating Station Duke Energy 1, 3 1959, 1960 150, 150 2012
IN Harding Street Station AES 5, 6 1958, 1961 114, 114 2017 Gas
IN Perry K Steam Plant Citizens Energy Group 1, 2 1925, 1938 15, 5 2014 Gas
IN State Line Plant Dominion 1, 2, 3, 4 1955, 1955, 1962, 1962 100, 125, 180, 209 2012-2014
IN Tanners Creek Plant American Electric Power 1, 2, 3 1951, 1952, 1954 153, 153, 215 2014
IN Wabash River Generating Station Duke Energy 2, 3, 5 1953, 1954, 1956 112 2009
IN Whitewater Valley Generating Station Richmond Power & Light 1, 2 1955, 1973 33, 61 2013 waste gasification
KY Big Sandy Plant American Electric Power 1, 2 163, 1969 218, 816 2014
KY Cane Run Station Louisville Gas and Electric Company 1, 2, 3 1962, 1966, 1972 163, 209, 272 2016
KY Green River Generating Station Kentucky Utilities Company 1, 2 1954, 1959 75, 114 2016
KY Paradise Fossil Plant Tennessee Valley Authority 1, 2 1963, 1963 704, 704 not announced natural gas
KY Henderson Station One Henderson City Utility Commission 1, 2 1956, 1968 11.5, 32.3 2008
KY Shawnee Fossil Plant Tennessee Valley Authority 10 1956 175 2015
KY Tyrone Generating Station Kentucky Utilities Company 1 1953 75 2016
MA Brayton Point Station Energy Capital Partners 1, 2, 3 1963, 1964, 1969 241, 241, 643 2017
MA Mount Tom Station GDF Suez 1 1960 136 2014
MA Salem Harbor Station Dominion 1, 2, 3 1952, 1952, 1958 82 2014
MA Somerset Power Generating Station NRG Energy 1, 2 1951, 1959 74, 100 2010
MD Chalk Point Generating Station NRG Energy 1, 2 1964, 1965 364, 364 2017
MD Dickerson Generating Station NRG Energy 1, 2, 3 1959, 1960, 1962 196, 196, 196 2017
MD R. Paul Smith Power Station Allegheny Energy 1, 2 1947, 1958 35, 75 2012
MI Cobb Generating Plant Consumers Energy 2 units unspecified unspecified 2014
MI Karn Weadock Generating Complex Consumers Energy 2 units unspecified unspecified 2014
MI Marysville Power Plant Detroit Edison 7, 8 1943, 1947 75, 75 2011
MI S.D. Warren Muskegon Power Plant Sappi 1, 2, 3 1938, 1968, 1989 3.5, 19.1, 28.3 2009
MI Whiting Generating Plant Consumers Energy 1, 2, 3 1952, 1952, 1953 106, 106, 133 2015
MN Black Dog Generating Station Northern States Power Company 3, 4 1955, 1960 114, 180 2016
MN Hoot Lake Plant Otter Tail Power 1, 2 1956, 1964 54, 75 2020 natural gas
MN Syl Laskin Energy Center Minnesota Power 1, 2 1953, 1953 58, 58 2015 natural gas
MN Taconite Harbor Energy Center Minnesota Power 3 1967 84 2015
MT Corette Plant PPL 1 1968 173 2015 mothball
NC Buck Steam Station Duke Energy 3, 4, 5, 6 1941, 1942, 1953, 1953 80, 40, 125, 125 2011, 2011, 2013, 2013
NC Cape Fear Steam Plant Progress Energy 5, 6 1956, 1958 141, 188 2013
NC Cliffside Plant Duke Energy 1, 2, 3, 4 1940, 1940, 1948, 1948 40, 40, 65, 65 2012
NC Dan River Steam Station Duke Energy 1, 2, 3 1949, 1950, 1955 70,70,150 2011, 2012, 2013
NC Lee Steam Plant Progress Energy 1, 2, 3 1951, 1952 75, 75, 252 2013
NC Riverbend Steam Station Duke Energy 4, 5, 6, 7 1952, 1952, 1954, 1954 100, 100, 133, 133 2013, 2013, 2013, 2013
NC Sutton Steam Plant Progress Energy 1, 2, 3 1954, 1955, 1972 113, 113, 447 2014
NC UNC Chapel Hill Cogen University of North Carolina TG3 1991 28 2020 biomass
NC Weatherspoon Plant Progress Energy 1, 2, 3 1949, 1950, 1952 46 2017
NJ Deepwater Generating Station Pepco Holdings 1 1958 82 2010
NJ England Generating Station RC Cape May Holdings 1, 2 1962, 1964 136, 163 2013, 2016 natural gas (unit 2)
NJ Howard Down Generating Station Vineland Municipal Electric 1970 25 2010
NM Four Corners Steam Plant Arizona Public Service Company 1, 2, 3 1963, 1963, 1964 190, 190, 253 2013
NV Mohave Generating Station Southern California Edison 1, 2 1971, 1971 818, 818 2005
NV Reid Gardner Station NV Energy 1, 2, 3, 4 1965, 1968, 1976, 1983 114, 114, 114, 295 2014, 2014, 2014, 2017
NY AES Greenidge Generation Plant AES 3 1950 50 2009
NY AES Westover Generation Plant AES 8 1951 75 2011
NY Cornell University Central Heating Plant Cornell University TG1, TG2 1988, 1988 2, 6 2011
NY Danskammer Generating Station Dynegy 3, 4 1959, 1967 147, 239 2012
OH Ashtabula Plant FirstEnergy 1 1958 256 2012
OH Avon Lake Power Plant GenOn Energy 1, 2 1949, 1970 86, 680 2015
OH Bay Shore Plant FirstEnergy 2, 3, 4 1959, 1963, 1968 141, 141, 218 2012
OH Beckjord Generating Station Duke Energy 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 1952, 1953, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1969 115, 113, 125, 163, 245, 461 2015
OH Burger Plant First Energy 4,5 1955, 1955 156, 156 2010
OH Conesville Power Plant American Electric Power 3 1962 165 2012
OH Eastlake Power Plant FirstEnergy 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 1953, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1972 123, 123, 123, 208, 680 2012
OH Hutchings Station DPL 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953 69, 69, 69, 69, 69, 69, 2015, 2015, 2015, 2013, 2015, 2015
OH Lake Shore Plant FirstEnergy 1 1962 256 2012
OH Miami Fort Station Duke Energy 6 1960 163 2015
OH Muskingum River Plant American Electric Power 1, 2, 3, 4 1953, 1954, 1957, 1958 220, 220, 238, 238 2014
OH Niles Plant GenOn Energy 1, 2 1954, 1954 133, 133 2015
OH Ohio University Lausche Heating Plant Ohio University OUG1 1994 1 2009
OH Picway Power Plant American Electric Power 1 1955 106 2014
OH Richard H. Gorsuch Generating Station American Municipal Power - Ohio 1 - 4 1988 50, 50, 50, 50 2012
OH Shelby Municipal Light Plant American Municipal Power Ohio 1, 2, 3, 4 1948, 1954, 1968, 1973 5, 7, 12.5, 12.5 2012
OK Northeastern Station American Electric Power 3, 4 1979, 1980 473, 473 2016, 2026
OR Boardman Plant Portland General Electric 1 1980 601 2020
PA Armstrong Power Station Allegheny Energy 1, 2 1958, 1959 163, 163 2012
PA Cromby Generating Station Exelon 1 1954 188 2011
PA Eddystone Generating Station Exelon 1, 2 1960, 1960 354, 354 2011
PA Elrama Power Plant GenOn Energy 1, 2, 3, 4 1952, 1953, 1954, 1960 100, 100, 125, 185 2012
PA Hatfields Ferry Power Station FirstEnergy 1, 2, 3 1969, 1970, 1971 570, 570, 570 2013
PA Hunlock Power Station UGI Development Co 3 1959 50 2010
PA Mitchell Power Station FirstEnergy 3 1963 288 2013
PA New Castle Plant GenOn Energy 1, 2, 3 1952, 1958, 1964 98, 114, 136 2015
PA Penn State West Campus Plant Penn State 1 1929 2014
PA Portland Generating Station GenOn Energy 1, 2 1958, 1962 172, 255 2014
PA Shawville Generating Station GenOn Energy 1, 2, 3, 4 1954, 1954, 1959, 1960 125, 125, 188, 188 2015
PA Sunbury Steam Station Sunbury Generation 1, 2, 3, 4 1949, 1949, 1951, 1953 75, 90 104, 156 2015
PA Titus Generating Station GenOn Energy 1, 2, 3 1951, 1951, 1953 75, 75, 75 2015
SC Canadys Station SCE&G 1, 2, 3 1962, 1964, 1967 136, 136, 218 2012, 2017, 2017
SC McMeekin Station SCE&G 1, 2 1958, 1958 147, 147 2018, 2018
SC Robinson Steam Plant Progress Energy 1 1960 207 2012
SC Savannah River D-Area Power House US Department of Energy HP-1, HP-2 1952, 1952 9, 9 2013
SC Urquhart Station SCE&G 3 1955 100 2018
SC W.S. Lee Steam Station Duke Energy 1, 2, 3 1951, 1951, 1958 100, 100, 170 2020
SD Ben French Power Plant Black Hills Corporation 1 1961 25 2014
TN Allen Fossil Plant Tennessee Valley Authority 1, 2, 3, 4 1959 330, 330, 330 2018
TN John Sevier Fossil Plant Tennessee Valley Authority 1, 2 1955, 1955 200, 200 2012
TN Johnsonville Fossil Plant Tennessee Valley Authority 1-9 1951-159 1486 6 in 2015, 4 in 2017
TX J.T. Deely Station CPS Energy 1, 2 1977, 1978 932 2018
TX Monticello Steam Station Energy Future Holdings 1, 2 1974, 1975 593, 593 2012
TX Welsh Power Plant American Electric Power 2 1980 558 2014
UT Carbon Power Plant MidAmerican Energy 1, 2 1954, 1957 75, 114 2015
UT Utah Smelter Power Plant Rio Tinto 1, 2, 3 1943, 1943, 1946 25, 50, 25 unknown
VA Altavista Power Station Dominion 1 1992 80 2012
VA Bremo Bluff Power Station Dominion 3, 4 1950, 1958 69, 185 2012
VA Chesapeake Energy Center Dominion 1, 2, 3, 4 1953, 1954, 1959, 1962 111, 111, 156, 217 2014
VA Clinch River Plant Appalachian Power Company 1, 2, 3 1958, 1958, 1961 185, 185, 185 2014
VA Glen Lyn Plant Appalachian Power Company 5, 6 1944, 1957 100, 238 2014
VA Hopewell Power Station Dominion 1 1992 71 2012
VA North Branch Station Dominion 1 1992 80 2014 or 2015
VA Potomac River Generating Station GenOn Energy 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 1949, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1957 92, 92, 110, 110, 110 2012
VA Southampton Power Station Dominion 1 1992 71 2012
VA Yorktown Power Station Dominion 1, 2 1957, 1959 159, 156 2015, 2022
WA Centralia Power Plant TransAlta 1, 2 1972, 1973 730, 730 2020, 2025
WI Alma Station Dairyland Power Cooperative 1, 2, 3 1947, 1947, 1951 15, 15, 15 2011
WI Blount Street Station Madison Gas & Electric 1-6 1925, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1957, 1961 10, 20, 23, 35, 50, 50 2011 gas
WI Capitol Heat and Power Plant Madison City Government 1, 2 1963, 1964 1.5 2010 gas
WI Charter Street Plant University of Wisconsin 1 1965 10 2010
WI Edgewater Generating Station Wisconsin Power & Light Company 3, 4 1951, 1969 60, 330 2015
WI Manitowoc Power Plant Manitowoc Public Utilities 1, 2 1950, 1956 10, 22 coal, gas, and waste
WI Menasha Power Plant Menasha Electric & Water Utility 1, 2 1954, 1964 7.5, 13.6 2009
WI Nelson Dewey Generating Station Wisconsin Power & Light Company 1, 2 1959, 1962 100, 100 2015
WI Stoneman Generating Station DTE Energy 1, 2 1952, 1952 18, 35 2010 wood waste
WI Valley Power Plant Wisconsin Electric Power Company 1, 2 1968, 1969 136, 136 2015
WI Waupun Correction Central Heating Plant State of Wisconsin 1, 2 1951, 1951 1, 1 2011
WV Albright Power Station Monongahela Power Company 1, 2, 3 1952, 1952, 1954 69, 69, 140 2012
WV Kammer Plant American Electric Power 1, 2, 3 1958, 1958, 1969 238, 238, 238 2014
WV Kanawha River Plant American Electric Power 1, 2 1953, 1953 220, 220 2014
WV North Branch Station Dominion 1 1992 80 2014
WV Philip Sporn Power Plant Appalachian Power Company 1-5 1950, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1960 152, 152, 152, 152, 496 2014, 2014, 2014, 2014, 2011
WV Rivesville Power Station Monongahela Power Company 1, 2 1943, 1951 35, 75 2012
WV Willow Island Power Station Monongahela Power Company 1, 2 1949, 1960 50, 163 2012
WY Naughton Power Plant PacifiCorp 3 1971 326 2014 Gas
WY Neil Simpson Power Plant Black Hills Corporation 1 1969 22 2014
WY Osage Power Plant Black Hills Corporation 1, 2, 3 1948, 1949, 1952 11.5, 11.5, 11.5 2014

Ownership of existing U.S. coal-fired generating stations

In 2005, there were 1,522 coal-fired generating units in the U.S., with 335,891 MW of capacity. The following companies (with their current subsidiaries) were the top producers of coal-fired electricity in the U.S. in 2005:[12][15]

Rank Company/Entity Number of Coal Plants (2005) Total Coal Capacity (2005) Total Coal Power Prod. (2005) Total Coal SO2 Emissions (2005) Coal SO2 Emissions Rate (lb/MWh) 2008 Revenue
1 American Electric Power 23 27,636 MW 167,422 GWh 1,043,582 tons 12.47 $13.33 billion
2 Southern Company 22 26,610 MW 163,360 GWh 1,090,967 tons 13.36 $17.00 billion
3 Duke Energy 20 18,585 MW 111,571 GWh 839,361 tons 15.05 $12.93 billion
4 Tennessee Valley Authority 12 17,647 MW 98,919 GWh 461,016 tons 9.32 $9.11 billion
5 Ameren 11 10,719 MW 67,477 GWh 302,285 tons 8.96 $7.67 billion
6 MidAmerican Energy 12 10,282 MW 67,028 GWh 172,946 tons 5.16 $12.38 billion
7 Edison International 11 10,253 MW 61,521 GWh 265,778 tons 8.64 $14.05 billion
8 Xcel Energy 15 8,961 MW 56,616 GWh 149,108 tons 5.27 $11.13 billion
9 NRG Energy 8 8,657 MW 53,586 GWh 180,696 tons 6.74 $6.89 billion
10 Dominion 16 9,031 MW 52,845 GWh 214,038 tons 8.10 $16.29 billion
11 FirstEnergy 9 8,495 MW 52,291 GWh 300,414 tons 11.49 $13.20 billion
12 E.ON 12 8,251 MW 47,307 GWh 236,000 tons 9.98 $116.95 billion
13 Progress Energy 9 7,925 MW 47,006 GWh 315,746 tons 13.43 $9.17 billion
14 Reliant Energy 11 8,134 MW 46,217 GWh 401,943 tons 17.39 $12.55 billion
15 Luminant 4 6,137 MW 45,911 GWh 273,126 tons 11.90 $8.50 billion
16 Allegheny Energy 10 7,636 MW 43,769 GWh 339,724 tons 15.52 $3.39 billion
17 DTE Energy 8 7,998 MW 41,782 GWh 199,337 tons 9.54 $9.33 billion
18 PPL 5 5,940 MW 38,512 GWh 260,936 tons 13.55 $8.04 billion
19 AES 14 5,371 MW 33,516 GWh 166,154 tons 9.91 $16.07 billion
20 Dynegy 6 3,755 MW 23,426 GWh 64,452 tons 5.50 $3.55 billion
21 Entergy 3 4,015 MW 23,038 GWh 70,502 tons 6.12 $13.09 billion
22 Alliant Energy 11 4,055 MW 21,456 GWh 97,114 tons 9.05 $3.68 billion
23 Great Plains Energy 4 3,462 MW 20,997 GWh 64,686 tons 6.16 $1.67 billion
24 CMS Energy 6 3,090 MW 20,367 GWh 91,317 tons 8.97 $6.82 billion
25 Westar Energy 3 2,958 MW 19,882 GWh 78,548 tons 7.90 $1.84 billion


These 25 largest operators of coal plants (all privately-owned corporations, with the exception of the TVA, which is a publicly-owned corporation) own 264 out of the 614 coal-fired power plants in the U.S.; these 264 plants produced a total of 1,425,653 GWh of electricity in 2005 (70.8% of total U.S. coal-fired power production). The coal plants owned by these 25 entities also produced 7,679,776 tons of SO2 in 2005, equivalent to 52.2% of all U.S. SO2 emissions from all sources.[12][16]

Additionally, these 25 entities had combined total revenues of $348.63 billion in 2007 (which is equivalent to 2.4% of the total U.S. GDP).[15] The U.S. coal industry is a big, big business, and its main players – who control the vast majority of U.S. coal power production – are among the biggest corporations in the country. (Dominion, Southern, AES, Duke, Edison, FirstEnergy, Entergy, Reliant, Progress, Xcel, DTE, Ameren, PPL, CMS, and NRG are all among the Fortune 500; MidAmerican is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the 13th biggest corporation in the U.S., and E.ON - based in Germany - is the biggest electric utility in the world.[17])

Cost of electricity from existing coal plants

As of July, 2008, the average cost of coal supplied to existing coal plants in the United States was $2.09 per million BTU.[18] At 34.3% efficiency for a typical coal plant, that translates to 2.08 cents per kilowatt hour for coal.[19] Operation and maintenance is approximately 0.75 cents per kilowatt hour.[20] So total fuel and operating costs for a typical coal plant is 2.83 cents per kilowatt hour. Since the median age of existing coal plants is 44 years, most are already fully amortized. That means their owners have fully paid off the construction costs, and operating and fuel costs are the only components of cost.

For more on the financial risks of coal energy investment, see Financial Risks of Coal Energy Investment.

External costs of existing coal plants

In economics, an external cost or externality is a negative effect of an economic activity on a third party.External costs of coal plants include the following:[21]

  • Reduction in life expectancy (particulates, sulfur dioxide, ozone, heavy metal, benzene, radionuclides, etc.)
  • Respiratory hospital admissions (particulates, ozone, sulfur dioxide)
  • Congrestive heart failure (particulates and carbon monoxide)
  • Non-fatal cancer, osteroporosia, ataxia, renal dysfunction (benzene, radionuclines, heavy metal, etc.)
  • Chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks, etc. (particulates, ozone)
  • Loss of IQ (mercury)
  • Degradation and soiling of buildings (sulfur dioxide, acid deposition, particulates)
  • Reduction of crop yields (NOx, sulfur dioxide, ozone, acid deposition); some emissions may also have a fertilizing effect (nitrogen and sulfur deposition)
  • Global warming (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide)
  • Ecosystem loss and degradation

Among the impacts of coal plants are the fine particulates released directly or produced indirectly by sulfur dioxide emissions.[22] According to a 2004 study released by the Clean Air Task Force, fine particulates from power plants result in nearly 24,000 annual deaths, with 14 years lost on average for each death.[22] Based on social decisions in other contexts such as transportation and medicine, researchers report (see below) that American society is willing to spend $129,090 to avoid the loss of a year of life.[23] This suggests that society would be willing to spend at an additional $40 billion (i.e., 24,000 annual deaths x 14 years lost x $129,000 per year lost) for alternative ways of generating electricity that did not produce deadly pollution. With US coal plants generating about 2 billion Gigawatt hours annually, the expenditure of an additional $40 billion would raise the cost of electricity by about two cents per kilowatt hour.[24]

For more on the external costs of coal, see External costs of coal.

Impact of climate change legislation on existing coal plants

The proposed Waxman-Markey Climate Bill, which stalled during the legislative session of 2009, would have impacted existing coal plants. Although the version of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) that passed the House required a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions from new coal plants by 2025, it mandated no specific reduction requirements for existing plants. Environmental groups and public health advocates wee concerned that, by driving up the cost of new plants and offering free emissions allowances or carbon offsets for older facilities, the bill may have actually resulted in even heavier reliance on an aging fleet of coal plants. Some groups expressed concern that the climate change legislation would end up having similar issues to the 1977 Clean Air Act, which grandfathered in older plants and largely exempted them from requirements that facilities use the best available pollution-control technologies. Environmental advocates pushed the Senate to add regulations to ACES that would lead to the closure of older, highly polluting plants.[25]

Retrofitting existing coal plants for carbon capture

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it is not economical to retrofit existing coal plants with carbon capture technology:

Existing CO2 capture technologies are not cost-effective when considered in the context of large power plants. Economic studies indicate that carbon capture will add over 30 percent to the cost of electricity for new integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) units and over 80 percent to the cost of electricity if retrofitted to existing pulverized coal (PC) units. A recent study from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) confirms that additional alternatives need to be pursued to bring the cost of carbon capture down. In addition, the net electricity produced from existing plants would be significantly reduced - often referred to as parasitic loss - since 20 to 30 percent of the power generated by the plant would have to be used to capture and compress the CO2.[26]

SO2 pollution and pollution controls

In 1970, the U.S. Congress passed the Clean Air Act, which regulated the emission of sulfur dioxide (SO2), among other forms of pollution. SO2 contributes strongly to acid rain, and causes or exacerbates respiratory illnesses. However, the legislation allowed for exemptions for older power plants. This legislation has been strengthened since then: in 1977, the New Source Review increased compliance by states, while the EPA's Clean Air Interstate Rule, passed in 2005, requires a 57% cut in U.S. SO2 emissions by 2015. (Roughly 60% of U.S. SO2 emissions come from coal-fired power plants.) Especially since 2005, many utilities have begun attaching SO2 scrubbers to their coal-fired generating stations. However, many plants still do not have adequate - or even any - SO2 controls.[27][28][29]

According to data from the Energy Information Administration, the following proportions of coal-fired power plants with capacity over 100 MW had SO2 scrubbers in 2005:[30]

SO2 Removal Rate # of Plants Total Capacity
Over 90% 94 46,734 MW
80-89% 49 21,613 MW
70-79% 52 20,950 MW
16-69% 11 3,825 MW
None 628 220,664 MW


It is possible that some coal-fired plants with SO2 scrubbers did not report their scrubbers to the EIA, and thus that the above table overstates the number of plants without SO2 controls. However, out of 257 U.S. coal-fired power plants which produced more than 2,000 GWh of power in 2006, 86 had SO2 emissions that were higher than 10 lb/MWh – compared with an average of 1 lb/MWh for coal plants with state-of-the-art SO2 scrubbers.[31][32] We can surmise that these 86 plants almost certainly have zero or extremely minimal SO2 scrubbers, or have SO2 scrubbers that were not functioning in 2006.

A more recent survey (June 2008) of coal-fired power plants conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency found that 209,000 MW out of 329,000 MW of capacity, or 63.5%, had no scrubbers. Of the 120,000 MW fitted with scrubbers, 104,000 MW represented wet fluidized gas disposal systems and 16,200 MW represented dry fluidized gas disposal systems.[33]

The following table summarizes the findings of the EPA survey (June 2008):[33]

Scrubber Status (2008) Plants Without Scrubbers Plants With Scrubbers Total
Number of Plants 351 146 497
Number of Generating Units 990 290 1,280
Capacity (MW) 209,000 120,000 329,000


In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency released projections about future scrubber systems at coal-fired power plants. The following table shows the EPA's projections for scrubbers in 2009 and 2010. The reason that the total capacity represented by these figures is lower than the figures shown above (316,000 MW in 2009 and 318,000 MW in 2010, compared to the 329,000 MW shown above for of capacity survey in 2008), is that these figures are based on a database that uses summer and winter capacity rather than nameplate capacity. [33]

Scrubber Status Capacity Without Scrubbers (MW) Capacity With Scrubbers (MW) Total Capacity (MW)
2009 (projected) 159,000 157,000 316,000
2010 (projected) 134,000 184,000 318,000


The following table summarizes the data from EPA's 2008 survey and 2009/2010 projections:

Year Percent of Coal Capacity with Scrubbers
2008 (actual) 36%
2009 (projected) 50%
2010 (projected) 58%


Here is a comprehensive list of these 86 dirtiest large U.S. coal-fired power plants in 2006, in terms of SO2 emissions:[31][34]

Rank Plant Name State Year(s) Built Parent Company Capacity Total SO2 Emissions SO2 Rate
1 R. Gallagher IN 1958-61 Duke Energy 600 MW 50,819 tons 40.38 lb/MWh
2 Muskingum River OH 1953-58, 1968 American Electric Power 1529 MW 122,984 tons 32.78 lb/MWh
3 Warrick IN 1960-70 Alcoa 755 MW 92,919 tons 32.69 lb/MWh
4 Hatfield's Ferry Power Station PA 1969-71 Allegheny Energy 1728 MW 135,082 tons 28.91 lb/MWh
5 Portland PA 1958-62 Reliant Energy 427 MW 30,685 tons 28.30 lb/MWh
6 Wabash River IN 1953-56, 1968, 1995 Duke Energy 1165 MW 58,793 tons 27.66 lb/MWh
7 Shawville PA 1954-60 Reliant Energy 626 MW 47,287 tons 26.96 lb/MWh
8 Cayuga IN 1970-72 Duke Energy 1062 MW 86,174 tons 26.68 lb/MWh
9 Morgantown MD 1970-71 Mirant 1252 MW 98,073 tons 26.08 lb/MWh
10 Keystone PA 1967-68 Reliant Energy 1872 MW 164,354 tons 25.83 lb/MWh
11 Avon Lake OH 1949, 1970 Reliant Energy 766 MW 43,479 tons 24.50 lb/MWh
12 Harding Street IN 1958-61, 1973 AES 698 MW 46,346 tons 24.00 lb/MWh
13 Jefferies SC 1970 Santee Cooper 346 MW 26,299 tons 23.92 lb/MWh
14 E.W. Brown KY 1957-63, 1971 E.ON 739 MW 45,191 tons 23.75 lb/MWh
15 Montour PA 1972-73 PPL 1624 MW 129,357 tons 23.70 lb/MWh
16 Kammer WV 1958-59 American Electric Power 713 MW 119,369 tons 23.58 lb/MWh
17 Cheswick PA 1970 Reliant Energy 637 MW 32,373 tons 23.01 lb/MWh
18 E.C. Gaston AL 1960-62, 1974 Southern Company 2013 MW 130,494 tons 22.91 lb/MWh
19 Dickerson MD 1959-62 Mirant 588 MW 35,954 tons 22.82 lb/MWh
20 Johnsonville Fossil Plant TN 1951-59 Tennessee Valley Authority 1485 MW 86,793 tons 22.67 lb/MWh
21 Fort Martin Power Station WV 1967-68 Allegheny Energy 1152 MW 87,565 tons 21.79 lb/MWh
22 Yates GA 1950-58, 1974 Southern Company 1487 MW 75,476 tons 21.63 lb/MWh
23 Big Brown TX 1971-72 Luminant 1187 MW 96,221 tons 21.59 lb/MWh
24 Chalk Point MD 1964-65 Mirant 728 MW 49,591 tons 21.14 lb/MWh
25 Merrimack NH 1960-68 Northeast Utilities 459 MW 32,726 tons 20.70 lb/MWh
26 Leland Olds ND 1966, 1975 Basin Electric Power Cooperative 656 MW 40,027 tons 20.50 lb/MWh
27 Brunner Island PA 1961-69 PPL 1559 MW 93,545 tons 20.49 lb/MWh
28 Walter C. Beckjord OH 1952-62, 1969 Duke Energy 1221 MW 62,480 tons 20.32 lb/MWh
29 Hammond GA 1954-55, 1970 Southern Company 953 MW 40,579 tons 20.25 lb/MWh
30 Conesville OH 1962, 1973-78 American Electric Power 1891 MW 90,540 tons 20.00 lb/MWh
31 Yorktown VA 1957-59 Dominion 375 MW 21,685 tons 19.86 lb/MWh
32 Gorgas AL 1951-58, 1972 Southern Company 1417 MW 81,268 tons 19.53 lb/MWh
33 Greene County AL 1965-66 Southern Company 568 MW 37,863 tons 18.99 lb/MWh
34 Eastlake OH 1953-56, 1972 FirstEnergy 1257 MW 82,705 tons 18.87 lb/MWh
35 Harllee Branch GA 1965-69 Southern Company 1746 MW 95,990 tons 18.73 lb/MWh
36 Miami Fort OH 1949, 1960, 1975-78 Duke Energy 1378 MW 62,028 tons 18.63 lb/MWh
37 Canadys Steam SC 1962-67 SCANA 490 MW 22,984 tons 18.58 lb/MWh
38 Kyger Creek OH 1955 American Electric Power and FirstEnergy 1086 MW 67,157 tons 18.30 lb/MWh
39 Bowen GA 1971-75 Southern Company 3499 MW 206,442 tons 18.24 lb/MWh
40 Homer City PA 1969, 1977 Exelon 2012 MW 106,772 tons 17.42 lb/MWh
41 Philip Sporn WV 1950-52, 1960 American Electric Power 1106 MW 39,741 tons 15.69 lb/MWh
42 Chesterfield VA 1952-1969 Dominion 1353 MW 64,863 tons 15.55 lb/MWh
43 Wateree SC 1970-71 SCANA 772 MW 32,797 tons 15.30 lb/MWh
44 Jack McDonough GA 1963-64 Southern Company 598 MW 28,835 tons 15.29 lb/MWh
45 E.D. Edwards IL 1960, 1968-72 Ameren 780 MW 50,126 tons 15.28 lb/MWh
46 Wansley GA 1976-78 Southern Company 1904 MW 96,200 tons 15.25 lb/MWh
47 Herbert A. Wagner MD 1959, 1966 Constellation Energy 495 MW 19,646 tons 15.13 lb/MWh
48 Cardinal OH 1967, 1977 American Electric Power 1880 MW 86,880 tons 15.12 lb/MWh
49 Clifty Creek IN 1955-56 American Electric Power and FirstEnergy 1303 MW 65,372 tons 14.32 lb/MWh
50 Cliffside NC 1940-48, 1972 Duke Energy 781 MW 28,878 tons 14.30 lb/MWh
51 G.G. Allen NC 1957-61 Duke Energy 1155 MW 45,395 tons 14.13 lb/MWh
52 J.M. Stuart OH 1970-74 DPL 2441 MW 103,649 tons 14.11 lb/MWh
53 L.V. Sutton NC 1954-55, 1972 Progress Energy 672 MW 19,159 tons 13.85 lb/MWh
54 Gibson IN 1975-82 Duke Energy 3340 MW 155,057 tons 13.80 lb/MWh
55 Sioux MO 1967-68 Ameren 1100 MW 44,148 tons 13.80 lb/MWh
56 Mitchell WV 1971 American Electric Power 1633 MW 53,152 tons 13.67 lb/MWh
57 Trenton Channel MI 1949-50, 1968 DTE Energy 776 MW 29,066 tons 13.52 lb/MWh
58 Clinch River VA 1958-61 American Electric Power 713 MW 27,134 tons 13.17 lb/MWh
59 Marshall NC 1965-70 Duke Energy 1996 MW 85,050 tons 13.17 lb/MWh
60 Hudson NJ 1968 Public Service Enterprise Group 660 MW 19,709 tons 13.04 lb/MWh
61 Big Sandy KY 1963-69 American Electric Power 1097 MW 46,476 tons 12.96 lb/MWh
62 Roxboro NC 1966-73, 1980 Progress Energy 2558 MW 92,259 tons 12.55 lb/MWh
63 Williams SC 1973 SCANA 633 MW 28,147 tons 12.53 lb/MWh
64 Belews Creek NC 1974-75 Duke Energy 2160 MW 95,290 tons 12.30 lb/MWh
65 Sandow 4 TX 1981 Luminant 591 MW 23,747 tons 12.25 lb/MWh
66 Indian River DE 1957-59, 1970, 1980 NRG Energy 782 MW 20,705 tons 12.24 lb/MWh
67 Tanners Creek IN 1951-54, 1964 American Electric Power 1100 MW 35,494 tons 12.08 lb/MWh
68 John Sevier Fossil Plant TN 1955-57 Tennessee Valley Authority 800 MW 30,126 tons 11.95 lb/MWh
69 Jack Watson MS 1968, 1973 Southern Company 750 MW 29,113 tons 11.94 lb/MWh
70 Bull Run Fossil Plant TN 1967 Tennessee Valley Authority 950 MW 27,987 tons 11.92 lb/MWh
71 John E. Amos WV 1971-73 American Electric Power 2933 MW 117,299 tons 11.68 lb/MWh
72 Paradise Fossil Plant KY 1963, 1970 Tennessee Valley Authority 2558 MW 83,926 tons 11.55 lb/MWh
73 Monroe MI 1970-74 DTE Energy 3280 MW 103,570 tons 11.52 lb/MWh
74 St. Clair MI 1953-54, 1961, 1969 DTE Energy 1547 MW 42,374 tons 11.39 lb/MWh
75 Crist FL 1959-61, 1970-73 Southern Company 1135 MW 35,614 tons 11.34 lb/MWh
76 Genoa WI 1969 Dairyland Power Cooperative 346 MW 11,420 tons 11.26 lb/MWh
77 Michigan City IN 1974 NiSource 540 MW 15,993 tons 11.21 lb/MWh
78 Mayo NC 1983 Progress Energy 736 MW 24,499 tons 11.20 lb/MWh
79 W.H. Sammis OH 1959-62, 1967-71 FirstEnergy 2456 MW 86,392 tons 11.08 lb/MWh
80 Milton R. Young ND 1970, 1977 Minnkota Power Cooperative 734 MW 26,879 tons 11.06 lb/MWh
81 Killen OH 1982 DPL 666 MW 22,825 tons 10.97 lb/MWh
82 Kingston Fossil Plant TN 1954-55 Tennessee Valley Authority 1700 MW 55,473 tons 10.69 lb/MWh
83 Winyah SC 1975-81 Santee Cooper 1260 MW 42,709 tons 10.68 lb/MWh
84 Colbert Fossil Plant AL 1955, 1965 Tennessee Valley Authority 1350 MW 39,942 tons 10.41 lb/MWh
85 Monticello TX 1974-78 Luminant 1980 MW 77,538 tons 10.37 lb/MWh
86 H.L. Spurlock KY 1977-81, 2005 East Kentucky Power Cooperative 1279 MW 38,877 tons 10.22 lb/MWh


While the 86 plants shown in the table above have a capacity of 107.1 GW, or 9.9% of total U.S. electric capacity, they emitted 5,389,592 tons of SO2 in 2006; this represents 28.6% of U.S. SO2 emissions from all sources.[34]

These dirtiest big coal-fired power plants – many of which are among the oldest in the country (the median age of the 86 plants is 45 years) – are mostly owned by the biggest U.S. coal energy companies. Here is a list of the owners of these 86 dirtiest big coal-fired power plants, ranked by total capacity of the dirtiest coal plants that they own, and including a ranking of the company's position in the coal energy industry:

Rank Company/Entity Rank in U.S. Coal Energy Production # of Dirtiest Big Coal Plants Total Capacity of Dirtiest Big Coal Plants
1 Southern Company 2 11 16,071 MW
2 American Electric Power 1 11 15,766 MW
3 Duke Energy 3 10 14,858 MW
4 Tennessee Valley Authority 4 6 8,843 MW
5 DTE Energy 14 3 5,602 MW
6 Reliant Energy 13 5 4,328 MW
7 FirstEnergy 10 3 4,203 MW
8 Progress Energy 15 3 3,966 MW
9 Luminant 17 3 3,757 MW
10 PPL 18 2 3,183 MW
11 DPL 24 2 3,107 MW
12 Allegheny Energy 16 2 2,880 MW
13 Mirant 20 3 2,568 MW
14 Exelon 7 1 2,012 MW
15 SCANA 34 3 1,894 MW
16 Ameren 5 2 1,880 MW
17 Dominion 11 2 1,728 MW
18 Santee Cooper 33 2 1,606 MW
19 East Kentucky Power Co-op N/A 1 1,279 MW
20 AES 19 1 842 MW
21 NRG Energy 9 1 782 MW
22 Alcoa N/A 1 755 MW
23 E.ON 12 1 739 MW
24 Minnkota Power Cooperative N/A 1 734 MW
25 Public Service Enterprise Group N/A 1 660 MW
26 Basin Electric Power Co-op 29 1 656 MW
27 NiSource 25 1 540 MW
28 Constellation Energy 36 1 495 MW
29 Northeast Utilities N/A 1 459 MW
30 Dairyland Power Cooperative N/A 1 346 MW


Thus, even though SO2 scrubbers have become significantly less expensive in recent years, many of the biggest coal energy companies in the country – many of which have billions of dollars of annual revenues – have failed to install SO2 scrubbers on many of their oldest and dirtiest coal plants.

Oldest existing coal plants

These are the oldest existing coal plants in the U.S.:[35]

Rank State Plant Name Date Plant Began Operation 2007 Power Prod. Notes
1 IN Perry K Steam Plant Aug, 1938 72 GWh
2 WI Blount Street Station Dec, 1938 2,031 GWh
3 IA Sixth Street Generating Station Apr, 1940 321 GWh Retired 2010
4 NC Cliffside Plant (existing) Jul, 1940 4,336 GWh Retiring Units 1-4 in 2012
5 IA Dubuque Generating Station Jun, 1941 338 GWh Retired Unit 1 in 2010
6 NC Buck Steam Station Jul, 1941 1,847 GWh Retiring Units 3,4 in 2011
7 MN High Bridge Generating Plant Jan, 1942 939 GWh
8 IN Harding Street Station Apr, 1942 4,115 GWh
9 WI Pulliam Power Plant Jan, 1943 2,519 GWh
10 NY AES Westover Generation Plant Oct, 1943 496 GWh
11 OH Burger Plant Jan, 1944 1,297 GWh Retired Units 4,5 in 2010
12 WV Rivesville Power Station Jan, 1944 271 GWh
13 VA Glen Lyn Plant Jun, 1944 1,612 GWh Retiring Units 5,6 in 2014
14 IN Edwardsport Plant Jul, 1944 254 GWh Retiring Units 7,8 in 2011
15 NY Huntley Generating Station Jan, 1945 2,756 GWh
16 VA Potomac River Generating Station Oct, 1946 1,601 GWh Retiring in 2012
17 MD R. Paul Smith Power Station Jan, 1947 698 GWh
18 IL Havana Power Station Jul, 1947 3,460 GWh
19 KY Tyrone Generating Station Oct, 1947 429 GWh Retiring in 2016
20 IA Lansing Power Station Jan, 1948 1,724 GWh Retired Units 2,3 in 2010
21 PA Mitchell Plant Jan, 1948 952 GWh Retiring Unit 1 - year unknown
22 IL Meredosia Power Station Jun, 1948 1,952 GWh
23 OH Hutchings Station Jul, 1948 691 GWh
24 MI Cobb Generating Plant Sep, 1948 2,339 GWh
25 NY Russell Station Dec, 1948 1,315 GWh
26 KS Riverton Power Plant Jan, 1949 672 GWh
27 MN Riverside Generating Plant (Minnesota) Jan, 1949 2,344 GWh
28 IN Eagle Valley Station Feb, 1949 1,577 GWh
29 AL Gadsden Steam Plant Apr, 1949 539 GWh
30 MI Trenton Channel Power Plant May, 1949 3,388 GWh
31 WI Stoneman Generating Station May, 1949 66 GWh
32 PA Sunbury Steam Station Aug, 1949 1,910 GWh
33 NC Weatherspoon Plant Sep, 1949 1,018 GWh Retiring in 2017
34 IL Wood River Station Nov, 1949 3,041 GWh
35 OH Avon Lake Power Plant Dec, 1949 3,078 GWh
36 OH Miami Fort Station Dec, 1949 7,399 GWh
37 NY Dunkirk Steam Station Jan, 1950 3,646 GWh

2010 Report: New EPA regulations could make old coal plants prohibitively expensive

According to the 2010 report "Impact of EPA Rules on Power Markets," by Credit Suisse, tougher federal air pollution rules that will be coming in the next few years could prompt electricity companies to close as many as 1 in every 5 coal-burning power plants in America, primarily facilities more than 40 years old that lack emissions controls.[36]

The regulations being crafted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), expected to go into force in April and November 2011 in accordance with the Clean Air Act, are aimed at reducing mercury, acid rain, and smog-forming emissions from utility smokestacks. The study found that the EPA rules, combined with a recent drop in the price of natural gas, could over the next four to five years cause the utility industry to accelerate retirement of old coal-fired power plants rather than spend to upgrade the plants' emissions controls.[36]

After expected emissions upgrades, the coal fleet will continue to have plants, producing about 103,000 megawatts, that are still "lacking any major emission controls," the study says. The oldest, smallest coal plants with few emissions controls make up an "at-risk" of closure portion that account for about 20 percent of total US coal-fired generating capacity, or 69,000 megawatts. The cost to cut sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury emissions could run $50 billion to $70 billion, not counting the oldest plants. Upgrading those would cost another $80 billion to $110 billion.[36]

Data sources on existing coal plants

  • Electric Power Annual - U.S. Energy Information Administration: The EIA's annual reports on the electric power sector provide 12 years of summary statistics on capacity, generation, fuel consumption, fuel cost, loads, electricity prices, plant capacity factors, heat rates, sales, revenues, and other characteristics of the U.S. coal fleet.


Resources

References

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  2. Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors), 1995 through January 2009, Energy Information Administration, Apr. 22, 2009.
  3. Electricity Net Generation: Electric Power Sector, 1949-2007, Energy Information Administration, accessed May 2009.
  4. "Count of Electric Power Industry Power Plants, by Sector, by Predominant Energy Sources within Plant, 2002 through 2011" U.S. Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2013
  5. "Existing Net Summer Capacity by Energy Source and Producer Type, 2001 through 2011 (Megawatts)," U.S. Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2013.
  6. "Table 5.2: Average Capacity Factors by Energy Source," U.S. Energy Information Administration, November 23, 2010.
  7. “Key World Energy Statistics 2013”, International Energy Agency, 2013, p. 25.
  8. "2013 Key World Energy Statistics" EIA, 2013.
  9. "US GHG Inventory 2013," Chapter 3, Energy, accessed June 2013
  10. "Table 8.2a, Electricity Net Generation: Total (All Sectors), Selected Years, 1949-2009," U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review, 2009
  11. "Table 8.11a, Electric Net Summer Capacity: Total (All Sectors), Selected Years, 1949-2009," U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 2009
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 "Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005"
  13. "Table 3.7. Net Generation from Coal by State, by Sector, 2011 and 2010," Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2013
  14. Energy Information Agency, "Existing Electrical Generating Units in the United States, 2008 (By Energy Source)", Preliminary Data; Figures for 2009 from National Energy Technology Laboratory, "Tracking New Coal-Fired Power Plants," January 8, 2010
  15. 15.0 15.1 Company Insight Center, BusinessWeek website, accessed April 2008.
  16. National Emissions Trends, Energy Information Administration, accessed May 2009.
  17. Industries: Utilities: Gas & Electric, Fortune 500 website, accessed May 2009.
  18. "Average Cost of Coal Delivered for Electricity Generation by State," U.S. Energy Information Administration, October 28, 2008
  19. The conversion factor is 3413 BTUs per kilowatt hour
  20. "The Future of Coal," MIT, Table 3.1, p. 19, 2007
  21. "Damages assessed," ExternE website, accessed March 2009
  22. 22.0 22.1 Conrad G. Schneider, Abt Associates, "Dirty Air, Dirty Power: Mortality and Health Damage Due to Air Pollution from Power Plants," Clean Air Task Force, June 2004 (Synopsis)
  23. "Cost-effective Medical Treatment: Putting an Updated Dollar Value on Human Life," Knowledge@Wharton, April 30, 2008
  24. Coal-fired power plant capacity and generation
  25. Kari Lydersen, "'The Clunkers of the Power-Plant World': Old Coal-Fired Facilities Could Escape New Rules," Washington Post, August 17, 2009.
  26. "Retrofitting the Existing Coal Fleet with Carbon Capture Technology," U.S. Department of Energy, accessed December 2008
  27. A Timeline of the Clean Air Act, Environmental Defense Fund, accessed April 2008.
  28. "Utilities amassing landfills: Tougher air standards send tons of plants' sludge, coal ash into ground", Columbus Dispatch, April 14, 2008.
  29. Coal Combustion Residues and Mercury Control, EPA Interim Report on the Control of Mercury Admissions from Coal-Fired Electric Boilers, April 2002.
  30. Form EIA-767 Database, Energy Information Administration website, 2005.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Dirty Kilowatts 2007 Report Database, Environmental Integrity Project, accessed May 2008.
  32. Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007, p. 8.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 "Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category: 2007/2008 Detailed Study Report," U.S Environmental Protection Agency, August 2008, Table 3-1, page 3-9
  34. 34.0 34.1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Technology Transfer Network: State Emission Index", accessed May 2008.
  35. "America's Biggest Polluters: Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Power Plants in 2007" Environment America, November 24, 2009
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Ken Stewart, "Is coal power headed for a downsizing in US?" CS Monitor, October 20, 2010.

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