By - Jim Vess

Two coal-fired units at Montana’s Colstrip Power Station to close at year’s end

Energize Weekly, June 19, 2019 Two of the four coal-fired units at Colstrip Power Plant in eastern Montana will close at the end of the year – 30 months ahead of schedule, the operator, Talen Energy, announced on June 11. A controversial legislative effort to save the Colstrip plant died in the Montana legislature this session. Supporters of the bailout

By - Jim Vess

Many clean generating technologies lagging in their deployment rates, the IEA says

Energize Weekly, June 12, 2019 While the deployment of carbon-free electricity generation advanced in 2018, many key technologies are lagging in the pace needed to reach international goals, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). “The world is currently not on track to meet the main energy-related components of the Sustainable Development Goals agreed on by 193 countries in 2015,”

By - Jim Vess

Tri-State G&T rejects $500 million offer to replace coal-fired power plants with renewables

Energize Weekly, June 5, 2019 The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association has rejected a multi-million dollar offer by Guzman Energy to buy three of Tri-State’s coal-fired plants, close them down and supply the association with electricity from a generation mix heavily tilted toward renewables. Guzman, a Miami-based energy contractor and consultant, contends that the deal—valued around $500 million—would allow Tri-State

By - Jim Vess

Global costs for renewables fell across the board in 2018, IRENA says

Energize Weekly, June 5, 2019 Global costs for new renewable energy fell in 2018 for eight major types of electric generation, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Costs between 2017 and 2018 dropped from as much as 26 percent for concentrating solar power (CSP) to 1 percent for geothermal and offshore wind. “Cost declines across the board in

By - Jim Vess

Small hydropower projects to add 330 MW of capacity in the next few years

Energize Weekly, May 29, 2019 Projects across the country are set to tap into the potential hydropower of dams not currently generating electricity with 32 dams in 12 states slated to add a total of 330 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). There are more than 90,000 dams in the U.S., but only

By - Jim Vess

Xcel Energy agrees to close three coal-fired units in Minnesota ahead of schedule

Energize Weekly, May 29, 2019 Xcel Energy reached a settlement with a group of clean energy and labor organizations to close two Minnesota coal-fired power plants and clear the way for it to buy a natural gas-fired plant. Under the agreement signed May 20, Xcel will shutter the 511-megawatt (MW) Allen S. King coal plant in Bayport, Minn., by 2028.

By - Jim Vess

U.S. utility industry coal consumption set to fall to lowest level in 40 years in 2019

Energize Weekly, May 22, 2019 The U.S. power sector is forecast to consume about 555 million short tons of coal to produce electricity in 2019—the lowest amount since 1979, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Coal will still be the second-largest source of generation in 2019, providing 996 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity—24 percent of the total. Natural

By - Jim Vess

Electricity demand to be down this summer, coal’s share expected to drop, EIA says

Energize Weekly, May 15, 2019 Summer electricity generation in 2019 is forecast to be down 2 percent from last summer to 1,168 million megawatt-hours (MWh) with a sharp drop in how much of that power is provided by coal-fired plants. The energy mix for the summer highlights the ongoing shift in the generating portfolio with coal dropping 3 percent since

By - Jim Vess

Renewable generation set to surpass coal-fired generation for April and May

Energize Weekly, May 8, 2019 Renewable energy generation in April and May will put more electricity on the gird than coal-fired power plants, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). It is the first time on record that renewable power sources—hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal—have surpassed coal-fired generation, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said.

By - Jim Vess

Montana legislative effort to prop up the coal-fired Colstrip power plant stalls

Energize Weekly, May 8, 2019 Last-minute efforts to bail out the Colstrip coal-fired power plant and keep it running stalled in the Montana legislature as the session ended April 26. The Colstrip bill was defeated in the Montana House of Representatives April 16 on a 60-to-37 vote. The Republican sponsors then tried to find a home for elements of the

By - Jim Vess

Coal plant closure moving west into areas with strong renewable energy resources, says BTU Analytics

Energize Weekly, May 1, 2019 The battle over coal-fired power plants and renewable energy is moving west, according to analyses by BTU Analytics, a Lakewood, Colo.-based energy consultant. About 81 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity has been closed at 696 units at 360 plants since 2008. In the early years, most of the closures were in the East. “Those retirements were

By - Jim Vess

Combined-cycle natural gas generation overtook coal in total capacity in early 2019

Energize Weekly, April 17, 2019 Natural gas-fired combined-cycle generating capacity in the U.S. overtook coal-fired generation as the country’s largest single source of electricity generation in early 2019, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). In January 2019, there were 264 gigawatts (GW) of combined-cycle gas-fired plant capacity and 243 GW of coal-fired plant capacity. In 2002, there were

By - Jim Vess

Global renewable generation rises in 2018 led by solar and wind

Energize Weekly, April 10, 2019 Global renewable electric generating capacity rose 7.9 percent in 2018, adding 171 gigawatts (GW), with wind and solar installations accounting for 84 percent of the new generation, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The majority of new renewable installations, 61 percent or 105 GW, were in Asia, giving the region 11.4 percent year-on-year

By - Jim Vess

Brazilian LNG-to-power project gets $288 million loan from International Finance Corp.

Energize Weekly, April 10, 2019 A Brazilian liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant project, developed by an international joint venture, has received a $288 million loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organization to the World Bank. The 15-year loan will cover development and operation of the plant in the state of Rio de Janeiro by Geração de

By - Jim Vess

U.S. coal exports, driven by Asian demand for metallurgic coal, hits five-year high in 2018

Energize Weekly, April 3, 2019 Exports of U.S. coal reached their highest level in five years, 116 million short tons, in 2018, even as domestic consumption continued to decline. The figures are based on foreign trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. exported 15 percent of its coal production in 2018, particularly metallurgical coal used in making steel,

By - Jim Vess

Majority of nation’s coal plants are undercut on costs by wind and solar, study says

Energize Weekly, April 3, 2019 Nearly three-quarters of the nation’s coal-fired electric generation could be matched or undercut on cost by local wind and solar installations, according to analysis by Energy Innovation and Vibrant Clean Energy. The report projects that the portion of the coal-fired fleet economically challenged by renewable generation will grow from 211 gigawatts (GW) in 2018 to

By - Jim Vess

Renewable and nuclear generation each set records in 2018

Energize Weekly, March 27, 2019 Renewable and nuclear generation—which combined account for about 37 percent of the nation’s electricity—both set records in the U.S. in 2018, according the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Renewables generated a record 742 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2018, almost double the production in 2008 and accounted for 17.6 percent of electricity production for the year.

By - Jim Vess

Facing costly coal plant closures more states are looking to using securitized bonds

Energize Weekly, March 20, 2019 Faced with a growing number of coal plant closures, some states are looking at the use of securitized bonds to soften the financial impact. New Mexico and Colorado already have legislation to create such bonds. “Securitized bonds are a way to avoid a rate shock and benefit from lower rates from cheaper generation,” said by

By - Jim Vess

A hot summer and cold winter drive U.S. electricity sales to a new record in 2018

Energize Weekly, March 13, 2019 U.S. electricity generation—driven by both a hot summer and a cold winter—rose 4 percent in 2018 to a record high of 4,178 million megawatt-hours (MWh). Generation for the first time surpassed the 2007, pre-recession peak of 4,157 million MWh, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Retail electricity sales to both the residential and

By - Jim Vess

Some states move toward carbon-free generation, while others try to save coal plants

Energize Weekly, March 13, 2019 While some states are pushing legislation for 100 percent renewable or carbon-free electricity, Montana and Wyoming are fighting a rearguard action trying to save local coal-fired plants. On March 4, Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz proposed a bill to get the state to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050. That same day in New Mexico,

By - Jim Vess

Midwest polar vortex fuels natural gas demand record and near-record for electricity

Energize Weekly, March 6, 2019 Extreme cold at the end of January pushed Midwest natural gas consumption to record levels and near-record levels for electricity demand on Jan. 31—the single coldest day when temperatures dropped to as low as minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Natural gas, the primary heating fuel in the region, hit a record demand of 37.9 billion cubic

By - Jim Vess

Montana-Dakota Utilities to close uneconomical coal plants in favor of gas and wind

Energize Weekly, February 27, 2019 Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) said it will close three aging coal-fired generation units in the next three years, replacing the capacity with cheaper natural gas-fired and wind generation. “Low-cost power available on the market, due to low-cost natural gas and increasing wind resources, as well as rising costs to operate these facilities, led to the decision

By - Jim Vess

TVA sees growth in solar and natural gas generation, but no new wind, coal or hydro assets

Energize Weekly, February 27, 2019 The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is projecting greater reliance on solar, natural gas and storage to meet electricity demand—but no new coal, wind or hydro—in its draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). A long-term planning document, the watchword in the IRP is “flexibility” in the face of market and technological changes. The IRP will “enhance TVA’s

By - Jim Vess

Renewables will provide 50 percent of electricity generation by 2035, McKinsey says

Energize Weekly, February 27, 2019 Renewable generation will meet 50 percent of world electricity demand by 2035 as electricity consumption doubles until 2050, according to McKinsey & Co.’s 2019 energy analysis. “The role of renewable resources in power generation grows at an accelerated pace,” the consulting firm’s analysis said. “From 25 percent today, renewables will grow their share of global

By - Jim Vess

Colorado PUC ruling sets stage for rural electric cooperative to leave Tri-State G&T

Energize Weekly, February 20, 2019 The Colorado Public Utilities Commission waded into a dispute between a Western Slope rural electric cooperative and the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association over the co-op’s efforts to leave the association. The commission’s decision will provide a new level of oversight for Tri-State, which provides wholesale electricity to 43 rural cooperatives in Colorado, Nebraska, New

By - Jim Vess

Coal and oil all but disappear from New England electricity generation

Energize Weekly, February 13, 2019 Oil and coal, once the dominant sources of electricity generation in New England, have all but disappeared, primarily replaced by natural gas, according to ISO New England, the region’s grid operator. Since 2000, coal’s share of energy production has dropped to 1 percent from 18 percent, and oil is now 1 percent compared to 22

By - Jim Vess

Increase in exports and prices can’t stop a fall in U.S. coal production and mine closures

Energize Weekly, February 6, 2019 Coal production in the U.S. was down nearly 3 percent year-on-year to 755 million short tons in 2018, with mines continuing to close, despite an increase in prices and exports, according to federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. Coal production slipped in three of the five major coal-producing basins as the Rocky Mountain region suffered

By - Jim Vess

Renewable energy advances in the European Union as coal-fired generation continues to decline

Energize Weekly, February 6, 2019 Renewable energy generation became cost competitive with coal in the European Union (EU) in 2018 and continued to increase its share of the continent’s electricity production, according to an analysis by two energy think tanks. The growth in renewables is coming at the expense of coal, and that is leading to a continued decline in

By - Jim Vess

DOE announces $38 million program aimed at making coal-fired power plants more efficient

Energize Weekly, January 30, 2019 The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $38 million, cost-share program to support projects aimed at making the country’s coal-fired power plants more flexible and compatible with renewable energy.  The stated goal is to develop “enhancing technologies that improve the overall performance, reliability and flexibility of the nation’s existing coal-fired power plant fleet.” “Utilizing

By - Jim Vess

Led by wind and natural gas, 49,000 megawatts of new generation to come on line in 2019

Energize Weekly, January 30, 2019 New generation is slated to grow by 49,000 megawatts (MW) in 2019 while 8,050 MW of coal-fired units will be closed or converted to natural gas, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Wind will account for the largest portion of new generation at 22,475 MW—45 percent of all planned additions. The biggest of the wind

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas-fired plants dominated 2018 new generating capacity, renewables set to rebound in 2019

Energize Weekly, January 16, 2019 New natural gas-fired generation capacity in 2018 accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total 24,808 megawatts (MW) installed for the year—and was double the amount of gas-fired capacity installed in 2017, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. The 18,550 MW of natural gas-fired capacity more than offset the 16,900 MW of coal-fired plants that

By - Jim Vess

Drought leads to higher carbon emissions from utilities in the West, study finds

Energize Weekly, January 2, 2019 Drought across the West between 2001 and 2015 led to reduced hydropower and a 10 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions as utilities shifted to fossil fuel generation, according to a study by Stanford University researchers. In total, drought conditions led to 100 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) being emitted during the 15-year period

By - Jim Vess

Global coal consumption rises, division grows between coal-free and coal-burning regions

Energize Weekly, December 26, 2018 Global coal consumption is set to rise for the second consecutive year in 2018 and demand is projected to be stable over the next five years—as the world divides between coal-free and coal-burning regions, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) market forecast. After two years of decline, coal demand was up 1 percent in

By - Jim Vess

New York sets goal of carbon-free electricity by 2050 as clean energy pace picks up

Energize Weekly, December 26, 2018 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set a target of net-zero-carbon electricity generation by 2040, as a broad array of clean energy initiatives continue to move forward in the state. “The federal government still denies climate change, remarkably turning a blind eye to their own government’s scientific report,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York

By - Jim Vess

Coal prices are competitive, but it isn’t leading to more coal-fired power in the PJM

Energize Weekly, December 19, 2018 A rise in natural gas prices has made coal more competitive, but in the PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest grid, the usual utility switching to the cheapest fuel has been hamstrung by the closure of mines and coal-fired units. “Conventional wisdom in PJM was that at times of high demand during the winter, coal generation

By - Jim Vess

U.S. coal consumption hits a 39-year low, coal-fired power plant closures continue

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 U.S. coal consumption in 2018 is projected by the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) to fall to 691 million short tons—a 4 percent drop from 2017 and the lowest level in 39 years. “The decline in coal consumption since 2007 is the result of both the retirements of coal-fired power plants and the decreases in

By - Jim Vess

PacifiCorp says it could save money closing 13 of its 22 coal-fired generating units

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 The majority of PacifiCorp’s 22 coal-fired units are more expensive to run that other power market options, the company said in a resource analysis. A total of $586 million could be saved by closing 13 units by 2022, according to the analysis, which is part of the utility’s bi-annual integrated resource planning. Running the plants

By - Jim Vess

Xcel Energy sets a zero-carbon electricity target for 2050, with an 80 percent cut in emissions by 2030

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 Xcel Energy has set a goal of producing 100 percent “carbon-free” electricity by 2050—making it the first large U.S. utility to set a net-zero carbon standard. The investor-owned utility, which operates in eight western and midwestern states, has set a target of an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions, from 2005 levels, by 2030 and

By - Jim Vess

Japan is bringing nuclear units closed after Fukushima accident back online

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 Japan is slowly bringing online nuclear power units, which were shut down in the wake of the Fukushima accident in 2011. In 2018, five units were restarted, raising the total operating units to nine. In 2013, Japan suspended its nuclear fleet—20 nuclear plants with 54 units—for mandatory safety checks and upgrades after Fukushima. In March

By - Jim Vess

New England set to meet winter electricity generation demands, though fuel issues linger

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 New England’s power grid operator—after a cold snap last winter taxed generating capacity—has put in place new programs and says it expects to have the resources to meet demand. Still, fuel constraints could pose a risk. ISO New England (ISO-NE) said in its winter outlook that it expects consumer demand to peak a 20,357 megawatts

By - Jim Vess

Coal-fired power plants quickly becoming uneconomical around the world, Carbon Tracker says

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 Coal-fired power plants around the world are quickly becoming unprofitable, with 42 percent already operating in the red—a number that is projected to grow to 72 percent by 2040, according to Carbon Tracker. “Over the long-term coal power will become a net liability,” said the London-based financial think tank, which is focused on clean energy

By - Jim Vess

Carbon capture technology success in cost and performance have been elusive, study says

Energize Weekly, November 28, 2018 Carbon capture technologies, after 15 years of research and development, remain expensive and technologically challenged and are rapidly being priced-out by renewable energy generation and natural gas, according to an Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report. “Billions of dollars have been spent for carbon capture research and development in North America, and

By - Jim Vess

Lazard analysis shows wind and solar becoming the cheapest new generating capacity

Energize Weekly, November 14, 2018 The cost of building and running wind and utility-scale solar projects is now beginning to undercut the major forms of baseload generation—natural gas, coal and nuclear, according to analysis by the financial consulting firm Lazard Ltd. Lazard’s 12th annual “levelized cost of energy” (LCOE) analysis, released Nov. 8, for the first time shows large-scale wind

By - Jim Vess

PJM could face reliability risks in early 2020s if more coal and nuclear generation is retired

Energize Weekly, November 7, 2018 The PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest grid, can manage the announced closures of coal and nuclear plants even in the face of severe weather—but with the loss of additional generation, “the system may be at risk.” The assessment comes from the PJM’s Fuel Security Analysis released Nov. 1, which was done as its grid, which

By - Jim Vess

Record number of coal plants to close in 2018 as utility industry carbon emissions drop

Energize Weekly, November 7, 2018 The U.S. power sector will close a record 15.4 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power plants in 2018, as federal data shows a steady, long-term drop in carbon dioxide emissions from the sector. An assessment by the non-profit Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) projects the retirement of 44 units at 22 plants in

By - Jim Vess

PJM has had the biggest growth in natural gas-fired generation of any U.S. market

Energize Weekly, October 24, 2018 The PJM Interconnection, the largest U.S. wholesale electricity market, has in the last five years added the most natural gas-fired capacity of any grid in the country, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). PJM has seen the closure or announced closure of coal-fired and nuclear plants on its grid, while steadily adding natural

By - Jim Vess

Google finds matching carbon-free energy to its data centers’ round-the-clock demand a challenge

Energize Weekly, October 17, 2018 Google has been the world’s biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, buying enough to cover all of its total global consumption. Now it wants to go further matching carbon-free energy to its demand for every hour of every day. One of the biggest challenges of renewable generation is providing round-the-clock reliability, particularly for the two

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas and coal-fired electric generation fell in 2017 while renewable generation rose

Energize Weekly, October 10, 2018 Natural gas-fired electric generation fell a record 7.7 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year, and coal-fired generation was down 2.5 percent, marking the first time in a decade both electricity sources declined—at the same time renewable electricity hit a record, according to the federal Energy Information Association (EIA). Total U.S. net electricity generation

By - Jim Vess

Small reactors are the only viable path forward for nuclear energy, policy groups say

Energize Weekly, October 3, 2018 In order for the nuclear energy industry to survive it must move in a new—small is beautiful—direction with the help of revised federal policies and financial support, according to a new paper from the Breakthrough Institute, R Street Institute and ClearPath. The solution proposed by the three right-of-center think tanks is small reactors, each no

By - Jim Vess

Financing the cost of closing coal-fired power plants is a key to a clean energy transition, RMI says

Energize Weekly, September 26, 2018 A major obstacle in the transition from coal-fired power plants to cleaner energy generation is the “specter of financial losses” utility companies face in closing those plants. Solving that problem is a key to a quicker energy transition, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). In “Managing the Coal Capital Transition,” the RMI attempts to

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