Coal capacities continue to shut down in the US



Capacity additions in October

In October, a total of 604.4 megawatts (or MW) of new generation capacity were added in the US. During this period, 196.2 MW of capacity were retired from service. The US added generation capacity of 408.2 MW in October.

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Capacity addition and retirements

Solar and natural gas power plants led the new capacity additions for the month. In October, solar and natural gas–fired power plants was composed of 242.4 MW and 140 MW of capacity additions, respectively. California and Wyoming saw the highest capacity additions in October. PG&E Corporation (PCG) is a major power company operating in California.

Nearly 66% of US capacity retirements in October were coal-fired power plants, and a major part of the retirements took place in Wisconsin. Xcel Energy (XEL) and Wisconsin Energy Corp (WEC) operate in the state.

Coal assets losing sheen

Coal-fired generating capacities have been under pressure this year. Power producers have retired 2,395 MW of coal-based capacities since the beginning of 2014. Also, this source has seen no additions in capacity during the year.

Low natural gas prices and imminent environmental regulations against coal plants has made natural gas a more preferred source to produce electricity for US power companies. Plus, natural gas–fired power plants produce electricity with fewer emissions compared to coal-fired power plants, which have high pollution levels. American Electric Power Company (AEP) owns the highest coal-based capacity among all the power companies that are part of the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU).


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