200 coal plants announced to retire since 2010 in US! That's almost 40% of the country's coal plants

Strip coal mining
CC BY 3.0 Wikimedia

Coal is over the hill

It's been clear for a while that coal is the fuel of the past, not of the future. Just this year, 12,300 megawatts of coal power will shut down in the US, with a lot more to come (it is estimated that between 2012 and 2022, the total reduction in U.S. coal power capacity will have been 46,000 MW!).

The Sierra Club, with its Beyond Coal campaign, is working very hard to move the U.S. off coal and get commitments that coal plants will be retired.

They maintain this interactive map that shows "defeated" coal plants, and which ones are still operational... for now:

Sierra Club/Screen capture

This week they're celebrating a new milestone: The 200th U.S. coal plant retirement announcement since 2010. This is a huge deal, because in 2010 there were 535 coal plants in the country, so this is almost 40% of the fleet that is going away (and while it's not always the biggest power plants that are retired, it's usually the oldest and dirtiest ones).

"In 2009, the pollution from the 200 coal plants now slated for retirement caused 6,000 heart attacks, 60,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 deaths each year. The plants emitted more than 188 million metric tons of carbon pollution, equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 39 million passenger vehicles. The coal plants also emitted more than 7,600 pounds of mercury each year. Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, contributes to thousands of birth defects and neurological disorders, putting communities surrounding coal plants at higher risk. "

What pushed us over the 200 milestone is a decision by Iowa utility Alliant Energy to retire 6 coal plants (and retrofit 2) in the state. “The days of coal-fired power plants putting Americans at risk are coming to an end,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “In Iowa and across the country, people are demanding clean air and clean water—and they are winning. Iowa is a leader in America’s transition from coal to renewable energy, and is providing a model for other communities as they demand and realize a 100 percent clean energy future.”

According to the Sierra Club, the state won't miss the coal:

Iowa won't have any trouble replacing that coal power with renewables - the state has long been a leader in the transition to clean energy. Nearly 7,000 Iowans are employed in the wind industry, and the state is poised to blow past meeting 40 percent of its electricity needs with wind power. The state is leading the way to a 100 percent clean energy future

SNL/Screen capture

The map above shows planned retirements and conversions between this year and 2022. You can read more details here.

Via Sierra Club

Tags: Coal

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