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Largest owners of US coal, gas and renewable plant capacity remain unchanged

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

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Largest owners of US coal, gas and renewable plant capacity remain unchanged

Over the past year, shifts in ownership of coal-fired, gas-fired and renewable generating capacity in the U.S. have followed ongoing trends in the power industry. Sustained low gas prices and lower operating and maintenance costs have continued to drive investments in gas-fired power plants, and declining development costs have helped increase demand for wind and solar plants. At the same time, coal retirements are expected to continue.

LS Power Group and Exelon Corp. made the list of 10 largest owners of US gas-fired capacity during the 12-month period through mid-September, while American Electric Power Co. Inc. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc., through its Berkshire Hathaway Energy business, dropped off. NRG Energy Inc. joined the list of largest owners of U.S. renewable capacity, and Dominion Energy Inc. fell out of the ranking.

The list of the largest owners of U.S. coal-fired capacity remained the same as the fall 2016 compilation, though with the order of owners shuffling.

Gas

The two largest owners of operating gas-fired capacity remained the same as last year, with Calpine Corp. on top with 24.52 GW and Southern Co. next up with 23.54 GW. Calpine also had the highest net generation figure, at 101.24 GWh, with Southern Co. third, at 92.16 GWh. Net generation figures are aggregated from monthly Form 923 filings to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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LS Power Group and Exelon are both new to the ranking of gas-fired capacity owners this year. In 2016, LS Power acquired three gas plants in Illinois: the Rockford I Energy Center, Rockford II Energy Center and the Aurora Generating Station, all from affiliates of NRG Energy.

Renewables

NextEra Energy Inc. topped the list again by owning the largest amount of renewable plant capacity, at 15.18 GW. Wind accounted for the majority of this capacity at 84%, and solar made up the remaining 16%. The company also reported the highest net generation for the year, at 36.49 GWh. Excluded from this tally is the U.S. government, which owns various hydroelectric resources.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy owns the second-largest total of operating renewable energy capacity in the U.S., with 8.39 GW, and also reported net generation of 21.75 GWh, the third-highest amount. Ranked second was the New York Power Authority, at 22.46 GWh, all from hydroelectric resources.

Southern Co. rose in the rankings to third place by owned capacity. It was involved in multiple deals whereby it acquired 10 operating solar and six operating wind plants. Additionally, the company owns 18 solar facilities and six wind plants that came online in 2016, aggregating to 2.9 GW of capacity.

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Coal

Duke Energy Corp. remained the largest owner of coal-fired capacity in 2016, with 17.69 GW, and reported the second-highest net generation for the year, at 72.56 GWh. AEP stayed in the second spot among owners of coal-fired capacity, with 15.05 GW, while reporting the highest net generation figures for the year, at 85.94 GWh.

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New on the list of largest owners of coal-fired capacity is Vistra Energy Corp., which was created in November 2016 as part of Texas Energy Future Holdings' reorganization plan. Its owned coal capacity totals 8.48 GW, and net generation for 2016 totaled 45.51 GWh. However, its position on the list may change, as it plans to shut nearly 4.4 GW — more than half — of its coal-fired capacity in early 2018, but also acquire Dynegy Inc., whose portfolio includes nearly 10 GW of coal-fired capacity.

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Use SNL Energy's Power Plant Capacity By Owner Summary and Power Plant Generation by Owner Summary to see top owners of US capacity and generation.