Power Generation

The coal industry has been on a bumpy ride in recent years. The industry has seen a wave of bankruptcies and mine closures in the face of falling demand and efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Jobs losses in the industry have led to economic devastation in already struggling communities across eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, and southwestern Virginia.

Bringing back coal mining jobs and reviving the coal industry is at the top of President Donald Trump’s energy agenda. But it is unclear whether the federal government has the power to disrupt a complex set of trends that have to do with market forces and technology, in addition to regulations.

This brief first looks at the current state of the U.S. coal industry. It then discusses a variety of trends that have impacted the coal industry over the past several decades as well as in the last few years. While environmental regulations have certainly played a part, this brief argues that there are other, likely stronger influences at work. The brief closes by discussing the outlook for coal’s future.

The mix of energy sources used to generate electricity across the country has changed significantly in the last decade as coal, while still the largest single source of fuel, has lost its share of the generation market to natural gas and renewables like wind and solar. States’ electricity generation includes such sources as coal, natural gas, nuclear power, hydropower, and renewables. The electricity generation mix varies significantly from region to region and even state to state, depending on available resources and regional market prices.

CSG South

This SLC Special Series Report, the first part in a series, examines wind energy in the Southern region.

CSG Midwest
Illinois will give Exelon Corp. $235 million in ratepayer subsidies to keep the company’s Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants open, as part of a bipartisan deal that drew support from the state’s renewable-energy community.
CSG Midwest
One-third of the electrical power used in Minnesota’s Capitol Complex will come from solar and wind sources under a new deal with Excel Energy. State officials say the 20-year agreement with Excel locks in prices for renewable energy that will save about $100,000 over that time period. The state spends about $5 million on electricity annually for the Capitol Complex.
CSG Midwest
Three nuclear plants in the Midwest are scheduled to cease operations permanently over the next two years, on the heels of other recent, unexpected closures of plants around the country, including Kewaunee in Wisconsin.

Since April, environmental groups in Colorado have been working to gather signatures for two statewide initiatives that would amend the state constitution to increase regulatory control on energy industries. Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development submitted two measures, Initiatives 75 and 78, that would grant local governments the authority to regulate energy industry development and establish that facilities be at least 2,500 feet from an occupied structure.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 established a national program for the safe, permanent disposal of highly radioactive wastes. In 2002, Congress approved a site at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain; however, that project was stalled and defunded in 2010. Consequently, there currently is no disposal facility in the United States for spent fuel rods from 99 operating commercial nuclear reactors across the country. Both the federal government and the private sector are taking action to develop solutions for the long-term, sustainable management of our nation’s spent nuclear fuel. The Department of Energy, or DOE, is seeking public input on how to site facilities for nuclear waste storage and disposal following a consent-based approach. At the same time, two private partnerships are attempting to develop interim storage facilities in New Mexico and Texas. This webinar, the second in a two-part series, explores these proposed solutions for the consolidated storage of our nation’s spent fuel and provides insight into the DOE’s consent-based siting effort.

A new study conducted by the economic research group Power Consulting suggests that the overall costs of operating the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in Northern Arizona may outweigh the benefits of increased electricity production.

The solar PV industry provides great opportunity for creating jobs, saving energy and putting money back into local economies. However, it faces many hurdles to growth, including limited understanding of its economic and environmental benefits, project costs and the absence of best practice standards. This article discusses these impediments and progress to address them.

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