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US grid expected to add a net 40,800 MW of generating capacity in 2019

More than 49,000 MW of new power generation capacity is expected to be added to the U.S. grid in 2019, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. Accounting for capacity set to be retired, the U.S. should see a net gain of 40,823 MW.

Specifically, 49,420 MW are expected to come into service, and 8,597 MW that have received approval from needed regulatory authorities are expected to be retired. Another 1,661 MW of operating capacity is to be converted to another fuel source.

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Coal-fired capacity accounts for 68% of the scheduled retirements, at 5,834 MW. This figure only includes retirements that have already received approval from regulatory bodies. Coal retirements in 2018 totaled about 11,800 MW.

Another 115 MW of coal-fired capacity is expected to be converted to other nonrenewable operations, while 991 MW at OGE Energy Corp.'s Muskogee plant will be converted from coal to natural gas. Additionally, one of two 1,100-MW units at Duke Energy Corp. subsidiary Duke Energy Carolinas LLC's Belews Creek plant in Stokes County, N.C., is being upgraded so that it can burn a mix of 50% natural gas and 50% coal. The second Belews Creek unit is due for a similar conversion in 2020.

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Scheduled additions dominated by renewables

Capacity additions are led by wind, at 22,447 MW, accounting for 45% of all planned additions in 2019.

Renewable and gas-fired capacity combine for the vast majority of scheduled capacity additions, though the largest single source of fuel for new capacity additions in 2019 is wind, with 22,447 MW, or 45% of all capacity additions. The largest wind facility under construction is the 500-MW Goodnight Wind Energy plant in Armstrong County, Texas. The plant, which is owned by FGE Power, is scheduled to become operational in two phases. Phase 1 totals 252 MW of capacity and is slated to go online in June, followed by the 248-MW Phase 2 in October.

Solar accounts for 22% of scheduled 2019 additions, totaling 11,050 MW. The largest solar project under construction is the 250-MW Phoebe Energy Project owned by Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. The plant is being built in Winkler County, Texas. The majority of the plant's output is under contract with Shell Energy North America (US) LP, a power marketing subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

Scheduled 2019 gas-fired additions total 13,993 MW, accounting for 28% of planned additions. NextEra Energy Inc. subsidiary Florida Power & Light Co., owns the Okeechobee Clean Energy Center Unit 1, the largest gas project under construction. The 1,723-MW combined-cycle facility is slated to begin operating in June, and is part of the utility's effort to replace older power plants with more efficient technology.

Companies plan to add nearly 1,169 MW of standalone storage capacity during 2019, comprised of 169 MW of battery storage and 1,000 MW of pumped storage. At 20 MW, the KCE NY 1 Battery Storage Project is the largest battery storage facility under construction. The project, which is owned by Key Capture Energy, is being built in Saratoga County, N.Y., and is intended to help support New York state's goal of 1,500 MW of energy storage capacity by 2025.

Nearly half of the planned additions will come online in either the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. region or in areas outside of an ISO territory, such as the southeastern U.S. or the western U.S. not including California.

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ERCOT leads the ISOs in scheduled additions, at 11,368 MW, 61% of which will be powered by wind. This includes the Goodnight Wind Energy plant, as well as another 2,389 MW of wind capacity under construction in the region. Another 24% of additions in the region will be gas-fired, while solar accounts for 15%.

Areas outside of ISOs plan to bring 11,953 MW of capacity online in 2019, led by solar at 4,931 MW. Gas holds the next-largest share, at 3,462 MW, followed by wind at 2,058 MW.

Planned retirements led by coal

The largest coal plant set for retirement is the 2,250-MW Navajo facility, located in Coconino County, Ariz. Four utilities and the U.S. government have ownership interests, and Phoenix-area utility the Salt River Project has the largest ownership stake. The leaders of the Navajo Nation are looking for ways to keep the plant and adjacent coal mine, which provide jobs and annual revenue, open. FirstEnergy Corp. will take two units at its Bruce Mansfield plant in Beaver County, Pa., offline, totaling 1,660 MW, with a third unit due to be shut down in 2021.

A total of 1,801 MW of gas-fired capacity is scheduled to retire in 2019. Three units at AES Corp.'s 1,997-MW Alamitos plant in Los Angeles County, Calif., totaling 845 MW, are slated to retire by the end of this year. The plant's other three units are due to be retired by the end of 2020 due to changes in California requirements around the use of once-through cooling technology.

Some nuclear capacity is slated to shut down in 2019.

The plant located in Plymouth, Mass. is slated to retire in 2019. Entergy Corp. announced in 2015 its plans to close the 683-MW Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts, in the ISO New England, citing poor market conditions and increased operating costs. The plant is set to be taken out of service in May.

Exelon Corp. has announced plans to retire its 829-MW Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania in September due to economic conditions in the PJM Interconnection market. S&P Global Market Intelligence is not yet counting this plant's capacity in confirmed retirement totals in this analysis because of the possibility that the Pennsylvania legislature this year might approve a subsidy scheme for at-risk power plants, including the state's nuclear facilities. There is precedent for such a decision. Following the passage of nuclear plant subsidy legislation in Illinois in late 2016, Exelon reversed previously announced decisions to retire two nuclear facilities in the state, Clinton Power Station and Quad Cities. The legislation provides subsidies to the two plants for a 10-year period, to 2027.

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