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Energy Secretary Asks National Coal Council for Report on Optimizing the Existing Coal Fleet



April 13, 2018 - In his keynote address at the National Coal Council’s Spring Annual Meeting, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Steve Winberg announced that Secretary Rick Perry has just issued a request to the NCC to prepare a report on optimizing the existing coal fleet to ensure a reliable and resilient power grid. Winberg noted that the report would examine a range of issues that impact the existing fleet, including an outlook on the future generation mix, as well as policy, market and technological challenges and opportunities.


Steve Winberg

NCC has also been asked to prepare a separate report assessing opportunities to advance U.S. coal exports. The report will examine international market opportunities for both metallurgical and thermal coals, providing a competitive assessment of the coal market supply chain and associated infrastructure. Both reports are expected to be completed this fall.

Winberg commended the NCC for the prior work it has undertaken for 6 Presidents and 11 Energy Secretaries since its inception in 1984. He noted that the lion’s share of the Administration’s FY19 budget request is targeted toward fossil energy R&D and he detailed objectives of the Agency’s Advanced Coal Energy Systems and CCUS Program (ACE Systems).

Winberg referenced a recently released National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) report on coal’s role during the winter bomb cycle. NETL found that coal provided 55% of the incremental daily generation needed across the six ISOs studied. The report also warns against overestimating the nation’s ability to respond to these kinds of weather events if the current rate of coal plant retirements continues.

Winberg emphasized the need to upgrade the U.S. existing coal fleet to make these plants more efficient and competitive; to extend their lives; and to make sure they can operate on a grid that is accommodating more renewable generation. At the same time, Winberg noted the need to move on to the next generation of coal plants – cleaner, more efficient and with a smaller footprint.

Winberg concluded his remarks noting that there are a lot of reasons for optimism when it comes to coal – a President and an Administration that support coal; regulatory reform to level the playing field; increased exports; and technology developments to upgrade the existing fleet and pave the way for plants of the future.

In other business during the meeting, Council members elected Deck Slone, Sr. Vice President Strategy & Public Policy with Arch Coal to serve as Chair of the NCC. Danny Gray, Executive Vice President – Governmental & Environmental Affairs at Charah LLC was elected to serve as NCC Vice Chair.


The National Coal Council is a federal advisory committee to the U.S. Secretary of Energy. NCC provides advice, guidance and recommendations to the Secretary upon his request, on issues associated with the coal production, consumption and transportation industries. The Council’s members are appointed by the Secretary to represent the various sectors of the coal industry and stakeholders with an interest in the coal industry. - Your Foremost Source for Coal News