Coal’s Share of New England Power Mix Drops to One Percent, Driven by Plant Closures, Low Operating Rates: EIA

Coal-fired electricity generation and coal consumption in New England and New York have fallen to near minimal levels as many of the coal plants in the region have either retired or switched fuels, according to a Feb. 4 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Coal’s share of generation will be less than one percent in each region in 2019, once final data is available, down from 15 percent in 2007.

  • Stronger environmental regulations and increasingly competitive wholesale power markets have led to coal plant retirements in the region, as continued operation would require investment in environmental control equipment or other upgrades.
  • In recent years, most coal-fired generation in the region has been limited to winter months, when supplies of natural gas are diverted to home-heating and natural gas prices tend to be higher.
  • The region’s coal consumption for electricity generation has fallen from nearly 3.0 million tons in 2015 to less than 0.5 million tons expected in 2019, based on data through November.
  • Owners of New York’s last coal-fired plant, the 686-megawatt Somerset plant will, have announced plans to retire as early as mid-March 2020; the closing date depends on whether the state’s grid operator determines if the plant is needed to ensure system reliability.
  • The 294-megawatt Cayuga coal-fired plant in central New York began a deactivation process in late 2019, and the 177-megawatt RED Rochester generating facility ended its use of coal in mid-2018 and is now using natural gas.
  • In New England, the 1,038-megawatt Brayton Point coal-fired plant closed in 2017, and the 385-megawatt Bridgeport Station is scheduled to retire no later than July 2021.
  • After the scheduled closures, New England will be left with four operating plants: 439-megawatt Merrimack plant and 138-megawatt Schiller plant in New Hampshire, and the 85-megawatt Rumford Cogeneration power plant and 56-megawatt S.D. Warren Westbrook industrial plant in Maine.