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ERCOT OKs Vistra's plan to retire 2,400 MW coal capacity in Texas

Vistra Energy can retire two coal-fired plants in Texas totaling about 2,400 MW of nameplate capacity by early 2018 as planned, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said Monday.

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ERCOT said the two plants are "not required to support ERCOT transmission system reliability," and approved Vistra's requests to close its two-unit 1,200-MW Sandow Power Plant in Milam County by January 11, 2018, and its two-unit 1,200-MW Big Brown Power Plant in Freestone County by February 12, 2018.

The two Sandow units are newer, with unit 4 built in 1981 and unit 5 built in 2010, while Big Brown's two units came online in the early 1970s, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

The market was likely driven higher by the announcement, as North Hub on-peak futures for July-August 2018 delivery were up about $2, trading in the high $70s/MWh Monday on Intercontinental Exchange.

In the wake of recent announced coal/gas generation capacity retirements totaling about 4,600 MW within the footprint, forward power prices across Texas have jumped since the start of October.

Houston Hub on-peak August 2018 packages, reaching as high as over $93/MWh in October and averaged in the high $70s/MWh during the month, according to Platts data, up more than 23% from the average of the low $60s/MWh in September.

--Jeff Zhou,
--Edited by Lisa Miller,