Obama EPA regulations blamed for closure of 100-year-old coal plant

By Michael Bastasch

A coal-fired power plan that’s operated for more than 100 years is shutting down, and its owners say Obama-era regulations are to blame.

Alabama Power’s Plant Gorgas will officially close in April. It’s only the latest coal industry casualty, driven by Environmental Protection Agency regulations and market forces.

“We recognize that Plant Gorgas and the men and women who have operated it have brought great value to Alabama Power, our customers and the local community,” Jim Heilbron, Alabama Power’s senior vice president, said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“We are also concerned that more regulations are on the horizon that could require additional, costly expenditures at the plant,” Heilbron said.

Heilbron said federal regulations for handling coal ash and wastewater made it too costly to continue operating Plant Gorgas. Those regulations were put in place under the Obama administration.

Coal plant retirements spiked during former President Barack Obama’s time in office as his administration put in place costly regulations amid a boom in natural gas production. Low natural gas prices have persisted, putting more pressure on coal plants facing high compliance costs.

Obama-era regulations for wastewater, for example, were estimated to cost coal operators $2.5 billion a year, though utilities said EPA vastly underestimated compliance costs.

The Trump administration put the wastewater rule under review in 2017, but nothing seems to have happened since. Trump’s EPA put the rule under review in response to a petition from utilities.

Alabama Power estimates it would cost $300 million to comply with federal environmental regulations and keep its three remaining coal-fired generators running. Plant Gorgas has been in operation since 1917.

The company said closing down Plant Gorgas would not impact reliability, and that federal regulations are forcing them to take a hard look at their power portfolio.

“Alabama Power is focused on providing our customers reliable, affordable electricity while protecting the environment we all share,” Heilbron said.

The effects of Plant Gorgas’ closure will likely ripple upstream to its suppliers. More than half of U.S. coal mines have closed since 2008 as coal plants close their doors and suppress demand.

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Image courtesy of Peabody Energy/Wikimedia Commons

One thought on “Obama EPA regulations blamed for closure of 100-year-old coal plant

  1. Another rediculous, uncalled for shut down, just as Vermont Yankee

    It is appalling to see the re-casting of so many Vermont and US issues as climate change-driven.

    The climate is not trying to kill anyone in Vermont, nor in most places.

    If you believe serious scientists, humans are too insignificant compared to the vast powers of nature to radically alter climate.

    It is laughable to think CO2 or industry can do anything near what climate alarmists claim.

    The climate scare is simply another false-fear hoax for more central control of anything socialist elites want from the masses, including:

    – $ for carbon taxes and credits. Wall Street benefits the most

    – Regulation of poor nations’ development plans, and perhaps worst of all,

    – Massive new debt on the backs of generations of tax payers to fund ‘green’ tech that is not needed does not work, and further entrenches power of the FED and other banks v the 99%.

    – The OAC ‘Green New Deal’ is an obvious politico-eco fraud with green tag.

    See this list of article about the GND


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