June 01, 2016 Feature

Decommissioning Coal Power Plants

Emily Fisher, Joanne Hopkins, Lola Infante, and Karen Obenshain

The electric utility industry relies upon a variety of fuels for power generation, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewable fuels. Coal historically has been the dominant fuel for power generation, although its share of the national fuel mix has been declining in recent years, mostly owing to the improved cost advantage of natural gas-fired generation. Low or no growth in electricity demand and a rapid deployment of renewable sources of electricity also have played a role and have contributed to changing the relative economic attractiveness of coal power plants. Where coal comprised approximately 50 percent of the fuel mix from 1950 through 2010, it made up 33 percent in 2015.

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