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Coal plant retirements in 2018 more than double 2017's total

A total of 16,900 MW of U.S. power generation capacity retired in 2018, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, far more than the 11,569 MW retired in 2017.

Coal-fired capacity made up nearly 70% of the capacity retired in 2018, totaling about 11,800 MW, despite efforts by the Trump administration to ease regulations on emissions from coal-fired plants. Gas-fired resources made up another 22.4% of retirements, at 3,789 MW.

The amount of coal-fired capacity retired in 2018 more than doubled the amount from the year before, when about 5,000 MW were shut down.

By power market region, the largest amount of capacity retired in 2018 was in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc., where Vistra Energy Corp. shut down more than 4,000 MW of coal-fired capacity at the beginning of the year. In the PJM Interconnection region, a slightly smaller amount overall was retired, but there about two-thirds of the capacity retired was coal-fired. The largest plant retired in PJM was the 1,731-MW J.M. Stuart plant in Adams County, Ohio, co-owned by Vistra, AES Corp. and American Electric Power Co. Inc.

Other notable plant retirements in 2018 included the 1,276-MW St Johns River Power plant in northern Florida, majority-owned by the city of Jacksonville, Fla., utility JEA, and shut at the beginning of the year, and WEC Energy Group Inc.'s 1,188-MW Pleasant Prairie plant in Wisconsin.

Also, Exelon Corp. shut down its 637-MW Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey, in the PJM region, in September, citing economic pressures from competing with less-costly gas-fired and renewable resources. The plant, which began operating in 1969, was the oldest operating nuclear plant in the U.S. Oyster Creek was the only U.S. nuclear plant to have ended operations in 2018, though several others are expected to close down in the next few years.

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