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Coal Power Plants Go Up in Smoke

Lester Graham

May 28, 2010

Many of the plans to build new coal-burning power plants have gone up in smoke. In early 2007, the Department of Energy noted there were 151 coal-fired electric generators on the drawing board. Lester Graham reports since then… nearly a hundred of them have been canceled—or shelved.

There are several reasons. The recession has tightened credit for building coal-fired power plants. Electricity demand has flattened- partly due to the economy—partly to better efficiency in businesses and homes. Lawsuits blocked some of the coal-burning plants. And some states are requiring power companies to compare the costs of burning fossil fuels to using alternatives such as wind because of concerns about climate change.

Ted Nace is with the environmental advocacy group CoalSwarm. He says he thinks this slow down in building coal-burning power plants is permanent…

“It’s a pretty profound shift in the American economy. And a lot of it’s being driven by economics, but also a lot of it’s still being driven by climate concerns.”

Some new coal-burning power plants did go online last year… but in real terms there was just as much new wind power installed.

For The Environment Report, I’m Lester Graham.

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