Progress Energy Carolinas last winter faced $2 billion in costs to overhaul and install scrubberrs on 11 generators at 4 plants. As gas prices plunged, it found a better alternative: replacing those aging coal plants with 2 gas plants at a cost of $1.5 billion.
"A lot of utilities are coming to a similar conclusion. Over the last year and a half, at least 10 power companies have announced plans to close more than three dozen of their oldest, least efficient coal-burning generators by 2019. A few are being replaced by new, more efficient coal plants, but many more are being replaced by gas-fired plants.
Coal still accounts for about half of the country’s electrical power generation, compared with about a quarter for natural gas, but that ratio has been shifting gradually toward gas over the last decade or so."
Clifford Krauss reports for the New York Times November 29, 2010.