The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has been closely monitoring and reporting on how EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) are impacting electricity generation in the United States. As the latest EIA preliminary data show, the scrutiny is well deserved. Based on information received from operators, between January 2015 and April 2016, about 87 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired plants installed pollution control equipment, and nearly 20 GW of coal capacity retired. Twenty-six percent of those retirements occurred in April 2015, MATS’ initial compliance date.
Overall, coal-fired generating capacity in the United States dropped from 299 GW at the end of 2014 to 276 GW as of April 2016. Perhaps more revealing of coal’s changing role is that coal-fired generation’s share of total electricity generation fell from 39 percent in 2014 to 28 percent in the first 4 months of 2016.