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Utilities Face Expensive EPA Rules Aimed at Reducing Emissions from Coal, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Despite the low cost of coal in America and the growing use of scrubbers that dramatically reduce emissions from coal-fired electric plants, the use of coal as a fuel has been under attack by regulators and environmentalists.  Virtually all major U.S. utilities are turning away from coal in favor of less-polluting natural gas.  Between 2010 and the middle of 2022, almost 360 coal plants closed or had plans to close, compared to approximately 170 plants that remain open according to the Sierra Club.
The EPA issued an Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule in June 2019 that allows states flexibility to balance energy needs while cutting CO2 emissions, effectively replacing the Clean Power Plan’s federal mandates while giving the states more flexibility.  Nonetheless, utility companies have little interest in building new coal-fired plants, and little chance of getting such plants through environmental regulators.
Generally speaking, electric utility companies operate under rules that allow them to pass their costs, plus a reasonable profit, on to their customers.  America’s utilities have invested vast amounts of money since 2000 in gas-fired plants, upgraded distribution systems, smart meters and, especially, technology that reduced emissions from existing plants.

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