Many Coal-Fired Power Plants ‘Ripe for Retirement,’ Group Says (Bloomberg News)

November 12, 2012 – Southern Co. (SO) and other utilities could retire as many as 353 coal-fired electricity units as the costs of installing pollution controls on those plants won’t let them compete with cheaper natural gas and wind power, an environmental group said. The Union of Concerned Scientists said in a report released today that an additional 59 gigawatts of electric generating capacity from coal plants could be shuttered, representing more than 6 percent of all U.S. electricity used. Those changes are warranted because many of those rarely used plants have already outlived their 30-year lifespan and generate the most emissions of harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases, the report said. “Spending billions to upgrade old coal plants may simply be throwing good money after bad,” Steven Frenkel, director of the group’s Midwest office and a co-author of the report, said in a statement.The future of coal has taken on greater commercial and political overtones lately as company executives and lobbyists complained of a “war on coal” by President Barack Obama.

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