24 GW of dirty coal power may shut down

New regulations may force up to 67 coal plants generating 24 GW of power to shut down. This is a good thing, except, where will the replacement energy come from? No one seems to have given much thought to this.

For example, an AES New York subsidiary with 1 GW in coal plants has filed for bankruptcy citing falling energy prices and increased regulations. Yes, they might be weasels trying to avoid regulations, but the new regulations will unquestionably be expensive for existing dirty energy plants to comply with. Many will simply shut down.

24 GW of power can not be replaced quickly. Permitting and funding for grid-scale renewable power plants can easily take several years, and this is before construction starts.

So where will the lost power come from?


  1. If a commodity becomes less available, then the price will increase which reduces the amount of customers able to afford it or in this case most likely a reduction of usage by customers that can’t afford to use as much of this service as they were used to. Access to electricity isn’t a constitutional right. To me, your question assumes that this reduction in available electricity *must* be replaced and that there’s a party responsible for doing so.

    I’ve found that I’ve been able to reduce my electric bill by at least 30% most months with little effort. I’ve made myself be more conscious of turning off lights and devices I’m not using. The biggest difference though came from plugging power hungry electronics into power strips and forcing myself into a habit of turning them off every night before bed. Not a bad deal in my opinion.

    It’s a momentary annoyance when I forget that the strip is off when I try to use a device but it’s pretty easily offset those times I realize I haven’t turned a particular power strip on in days and seeing the bill every month. (I actually look forward to opening the bill to see if I beat last months usage reduction.) Talk about burning money for nothing. How much money do households give to power companies just so their electronics can be instantly available? Does the TV/DVD Player/radio/whatever really need to consume electricity 24 hours a day?

    Will I be happy because of a price increase? No, but I accept that this is how our market economy works and I’ve put myself in a better position to deal with it. I chose to take small consistent actions and keep more of my money.

    If everyone made a conscious effort to reduce their electrical consumption, how many of those plants wouldn’t be needed?

    • I completely agree. Conservation is the best and first way. Plus, it makes a virtuous circle. Electricity generation is a huge user of water. Less electricity means less water used.

      And in California, the biggest use of electricity is pumping water.

      Crazy, isn’t it?

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