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U.S. Coal Plant Closings to Fall to Five-Year Low

 

 

January 1, 2019 - Coal-fired power plant retirements in 2019 are expected to fall to the lowest level in 5 years, with just 6,972MW of generation at 21 units expected to shut next year. The last time fewer retirements were scheduled was 2014, when 5,999MW of generation retirements were planned.


That is down significantly from 2018, when more than 18,000MW of coal-fired generation was scheduled to retire, the highest level since 2015, according to Argus data.


The 21 units expected to shut down in 2019 received 8.6mn short tons (7.8mn metric tonnes) of coal from 18 mines in during the first half of 2018, US Energy Information Administration coal receipt data show.


The mine with the most coal at risk is Peabody Energy's Kayenta mine in Arizona, with 3.24mn st of coal shipped during the first half of 2018 to the Navajo power plant. The Navajo facility, the only power plant the Kayenta mine supplies, is scheduled to close next December.


The Navajo plant also is the largest plant being retired, with a total nameplate capacity of 2,409MW. It accounts for 35pc of all planned coal-fired capacity to be retired in 2019.


There is a chance the Navajo power plant could remain open beyond its scheduled decomissioning date, since the Navajo Nation is looking into the feasibility of buying the plant.


"The Navajo Nation is poised to pursue other viable options to allow for the continuation of the Navajo Generating Station beyond 2019," Navajo National Council speaker LoRenzo Bates said after US private equity firm Middle River Power withdrew its interest in the power plant in September.


The Navajo Nation had said it would have a plan to move forward by the end of 2018. Calls to the Navajo Nation seeking an update on its plans were not returned today.


Peabody's North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Wyoming has the second-largest amount of coal at risk to 2019 power plant closures, with 1.54mn st of coal shipped during the first half of 2018 to power plants with units retiring in 2019, including the Muskogee plant in Oklahoma, the Asbury plant in Missouri and the Presque Isle plant in Michigan. The total amount shipped to those plants makes up only 3.5pc of total coal shipped from the mine in the first half of 2018, according to EIA data.


The only other mine the EIA reported shipping more than 1mn st of coal to retiring units in the first half of 2018 was Drummond's Mina Pribbenow mine in Columbia, which shipped 1.2mn st of coal to the Barry plant in Alabama during the first half of this year.


Murray Energy's Marshall County Mine (formerly McElroy Mine) in Ohio, shipped 840,120 st of coal to retiring units in the first half of 2018, accounting for 22pc of total receipts from the mine during that period. Alliance Resource Partner's Tunnel Ridge mine in West Virginia shipped 730,349 st of coal to retiring units in the first half of 2018, accounting for 23pc of total receipts from the mine during that period.

 

No other mines delivered more than 250,000 st of coal to retiring units in the first half of 2018.