The Electric Reliability Council of Texas: Coal Plants vs. Marked Conditions
MetadataShow full item record
Coal-fired power plant retirements are important to understand as energy systems and energy markets evolve. Three base-load coal-fired power plants that were operational within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region were retired in the early months of 2018, which resulted in 4.2 GW of generating capacity being removed from the ERCOT grid. The purpose of this study is to analyze the driving factors behind these retirements. From shifts in electricity generation by fuel source, changing economic conditions, to various state and federal policies influencing the ERCOT wholesale electricity market, there is many influences that contribute to these retirements. To conduct this study an analysis of ERCOT’s wholesale energy market was performed to understand shifts in utilized fuel sources to meet consumer demands, and how net generation by fuel source has evolved over a fifteen-year period. An in-depth analysis was conducted on net generation by fuel source data over the fifteen-month period of January 2017-March 2018 to analyze shifts in net generation leading up to these coal-fired power plant retirements in February 2018. After finalizing this analysis, one general observation can be made: multiple factors influenced these coal-fired power plants, including:  Inexpensive natural gas prices;  increased installation of renewable energy generating capacity; and  various EPA air quality regulations and policies. These factors have made it extremely difficult for these coal-fired power plants to compete within ERCOT’s wholesale energy market. Understanding how these retirements were influenced by the variety of factors allows for a better assessment of how future coal-fired power plants within the ERCOT service region could be at risk for retirement.