The FINANCIAL -- Plant
owners and operators report to EIA that they expect to retire almost 27
gigawatts (GW) of capacity from 175 coal-fired generators between 2012
As EIA reported, in 2011, there were 1,387 coal-fired generators in the United States, totaling almost 318 GW. The 27 GW of retiring capacity amounts to 8.5% of total 2011 coal-fired capacity.
The coal-fired capacity expected to be retired over the next five years is more than four times greater than retirements performed during the preceding five-year period (6.5 GW). Moreover, based on EIA data, the approximate 9 GW of coal-fired capacity retirements expected to occur in 2012 will likely be the largest one-year amount in the nation's history. The record is, however, expected to be short-lived as almost 10 GW of coal-fired capacity are expected to retire in 2015.
These planned retirement values reflect the early release version of the 2011 reports by plant owners and operators on the Form EIA-860, "Annual Electric Generator Report." The data are subject to change and may not reflect all the retirements that companies are considering. Respondents to this survey include industrial and commercial generators, as well as those in the electric power sector.
By contrast, the average size of a coal-fired plant planned for
retirement between 2012 and 2015 is 154 MW, more than twice the average
size of the units retired during the 2009-2011 period. Twelve units of
at least 200 MW are expected to retire in 2012, including two 790 MW
units. Another 13 coal-fired units with generating capacities of 200 MW
or greater are expected to retire in 2015—this is close to the average
size of all coal units existing in 2011 (228 MW).
The table also underscores that plants planned for retirement are more efficient than previously-retired plants. By 2015, the retiring coal-fired units will have average tested heat rates of about 10,700 British thermal units per kilowatthour; these coal-fired units are approximately 12% more efficient than the group of units, on average, that retired during 2009-2011, but 5% less efficient than the average coal unit.