The Institute for Energy Research is a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.

About IER
Latest Analysis
October 7, 2011

IER Identifies Coal Fired Power Plants Likely to Close as Result of EPA Regulations

October 7, 2011
Print Friendly

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-fired plant they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them…”
– Barack Obama speaking to San Francisco Chronicle, January 2008

 **UPDATE**  April 20, 2012

In the months since we released this report, electricity producers have announced another 6 GW of impending plant closures as a result of EPA’s upcoming regulations. To see the updated information, click here for the updated report.

 Download the Updated Report as a PDF

Are EPA regulations closing power plants in your state?

October 7, 2012

The United States has the world’s largest coal resources. In fact we have 50 percent more coal than Russia, the country with the next largest reserves. But coal use in the United States is under assault.

Before becoming President, Barack Obama promised to bankrupt coal companies. As President, he has tried various strategies to force Americans to use less coal. After failing to pass a national energy tax (cap-and-trade), the President vowed to continue his attack on coal stating, there is “more than one way to skin a cat.”

Currently, EPA is leading the Obama administration’s assault on coal with a number of new regulations. Two of the most important are the “transport rule” and the “toxics rule” (Utility MACT). Combined, these regulations will systematically reduce access to affordable and reliable energy. According to our report:

  • EPA Regulations Will Close At Least 28 GW of Generating Capacity

EPA modeling and power-plant operator announcements show that EPA regulations will close at least 28 gigawatts (GW) of American generating capacity, the equivalent of closing every power plant in the state of North Carolina or Indiana. Also, 28 GW is 8.9 percent of our total coal generating capacity.

  • Current Retirements Almost Twice As High As EPA Predicted

EPA’s power plant-level modeling projected that Agency regulations would close 14.5 GW of generating capacity.  That number rises to 28 GW when including additional announced retirements related to EPA rules, almost twice the amount EPA projected.  Moreover, this number will grow as plant operators continue to release their EPA compliance plans.

  • Announced and Projected Retirements Higher Than Worst Case Scenarios

Analysis by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the entity in charge of grid reliability, projected that EPA’s Transport Rule and Toxics Rule would close 20 GW of generating capacity.  This list indicates that at least 28 GW will retire.  EPA’s Transport Rule and Toxics Rule push U.S. energy security past the NERC worst case scenario.

  • EPA’s New Regulations Will Hit States Trying To Get Back On Their Feet

Current announcements and EPA projections indicate that EPA regulations have a dramatic impact on states reeling from economic hardship.

    • Ohio: 2,894 MW retired, 8.6% of state total generating capacity.
    • West Virginia: 2,448 MW retired, 14% of state total generating capacity.
    • Indiana: 2,168 MW retired, 7.5% of state total generating capacity.
    • Tennessee: 1,376 MW retired, 6.2% of state total generating capacity.
    • Missouri: 1,325 MW retired, 6.3% of state total generating capacity.
    • Wisconsin:  902 MW retired, 5% of state total generating capacity.


Download the spreadsheet of power plants by clicking here: Announced and EPA Projected Power Plant Retirements


You can view the complete list below:

[table id=45 /]

You can download the excel document by clicking here: Announced and EPA Projected Power Plant Retirements.

Notes:1.       All retirements announced by plant owners result from EPA regulation.  In each such case, the citation included directly identifies EPA regulations as the sole or main reason for the power plant’s retirement.

2.       Plant closures attributed to EPA modeling only include those plants that EPA projects to close as a result of EPA regulations.  “Toxics Rule” results were found by removing plants listed on the Toxics Rule “IPM Parsed File – Base Case” (EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0234-3032) from the “IPM Parsed File – Policy Case” (EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0234-3033).  “Transport Rule” results were found by removing plants listed on “TR Base Case Final” from the “TR Remedy Final” (both files available at:

3.       According to the EPA, the Toxics Rule base case includes the Transport Rule.  Thus, theoretically, both the Toxics Rule Policy Case and Transport Rule Remedy Case (when controlled for their respective base cases) should not both independently identify closure of the same plant.  Nevertheless, the list shows a 2 GW overlap between the two rules.  This is, presumably, due to variance in the modeling platforms EPA utilized for both rules.

Power Plant Retirement List Background Information 


 List Sources

This list is derived from three sources: (1) EPA’s parsed modeling files, which identify the power-plant units that EPA models say will close as a result of either the Clean Air Transport Rule (Transport Rule) or Utility MACT (Toxics Rule); (2) news releases or press stories where a power-plant operator says a unit will or is likely to close due to EPA regulations; and (3) filings with state public utility commissions where a power-plant operator says a unit will or is likely to close due to EPA regulations.  All sources are publically available information.

EPA Parsed  Files

Process to Identify Units Closed by EPA Regulation

Individual power-plants often have multiple boilers, called “units,” that generate electricity.  EPA, in addition to overall modeling, models the impact that the Agency believes its regulations will have on each unit, at each power-plant in America.  EPA lists these results in “parsed files.”  When producing parsed files for a regulation, EPA will first create a business-as-usual “base” case parsed file where the Agency details what it believes will happen absent EPA’s new regulation.  Next, EPA creates a “policy” or “remedy” case parsed file showing how EPA believes plants will respond to a regulation.  Thus, one can find the difference between these two cases, and figure out the impact EPA believes a regulation will have, by comparing the policy/remedy case parsed file to the base case parsed file.  As such, the following steps were taken so that the list would only include those units EPA said would retire as a result of the Transport Rule and Toxics Rule:

For the Transport Rule, data from the parsed files for the Transport Rule’s base case and remedy case were put on a single spreadsheet.  The combined results were organized by plant name.  Each plant listed in both the base case and remedy case was removed.  Thus, the resulting list only shows those plants that EPA believes will close because of the Transport Rule.

For the Toxics Rule, data from the parsed files for the Toxics Rule’s base case and policy case were put on a single spreadsheet.  The combined results were organized by plant name.  Each plant listed in both the base case and policy case was removed.  Thus, the resulting list only shows those plants that EPA believes will close because of the Toxics Rule.

The resulting base case-free Transport Rule list and Toxics Rule list were then put on a single spreadsheet.  The combined results were organized by plant name.  In each instance where the Transport Rule and the Toxics Rule independently said the same plant would retire, one of the entries was deleted so as to not double-count it.  The citation was modified to attribute the unit closure to both the Transport Rule and Toxics Rule.

Transport Rule Parsed File

The parsed file for the Transport Rule is based on EPA’s proposed Clean Air Transport Rule and not the final Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR).  EPA has not yet made the CSAPR parsed files available to the public.  However, given that the final CSAPR is more stringent than the rule’s proposed version, it is likely that CSAPR’s parsed file will show more unit closures than the parsed file used on this list.

Power-plant Owner Public Announcements

Ensuring that Retirements are Result of EPA Regulation

All retirements announced by plant owners in news releases or through public filings on this list were due to EPA regulation.  In each such case, the source cited directly identifies EPA regulations as the sole or main reason for the power plant’s retirement.

Avoiding Double-Counting

If a unit was identified to close by both EPA parsed files and public announcements, then the duplicate entry was released.  The units citation was modified to indicate that both EPA and public announcements slated the unit for retirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this list’s total retired capacity higher than EPA’s total?

The total retired capacity for this list is higher than EPA’s total because this list includes EPA’s projected unit retirements and unit retirements announced by power-plant operators.  No unit cited by both sources was double counted.

Does this list include plants that will close even without the Transport Rule or Toxics Rule?

No.  The parsed file results used in this list do not include business-as-usual base case results.  In other words, if EPA modeled a unit to close even if the Transport Rule or Toxics Rule were not implemented, then that unit was not included.

EPA says only 9.9 GW will close, so why are these numbers higher?

The 9.9 GW retired coal-plant capacity figure is from the EPA Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) for the Toxics Rule alone.  The Transport Rule RIA projects an additional 4.8 GW of coal-plant capacity to retire due to the Transport Rule.  When combined, the RIA’s project 13.8 GW of coal-plant capacity to retire due to the Toxics Rule and Transport Rule.  As noted above, additional plant retirements are due to actually announced retirements.

Why do EPA’s RIAs say the Transport and Toxics Rule will retire 13.8 GW of coal-capacity, while EPA’s parsed files say the two rules will retire 14.5 GW? 

EPA’s overall modeling runs and parsed model use slightly different methods.  Thus, the totals for the final results are slightly different, though very similar.  The difference between the two totals is only .8 GW.

When a power-plant operator announces that it is closing a certain unit, how do you know that is because of EPA regulations?

In each case where a retirement is attributed to public announcements, the cited source material lists EPA regulations as the sole or main reason for the plant’s retirement.

Some groups have said EPA regulations will retire 60 – 80 GW of coal-fired generation, but this list only shows 28 GW.  Does this mean those projections are wrong?

No.  If anything this list gives more credibility to those higher retirement projections.  This list is very conservative; it merely shows what units EPA says its regulations will close, plus specific units that plant-operators have said will close because of EPA regulations.  Those analyses that show higher power-plant retirements than this list lay out what the final overall impact of EPA’s regulation will be.  On the other hand, this list focuses just on the currently disclosed impact.  Plant-operators generally announce retirements only when required to by public filings.  Thus, this list will likely grow far higher.  However, because this list already finds twice as many retirements as EPA projected, the Agency’s claim that its regulations will have minimal impact on electric generation are clearly incorrect.

EPA has said that other projections showing a high coal generation retirements were based on incorrect assumptions.  Is that the case for this list?

No.  The only modeling in this list is from EPA.  Thus, any mistaken assumption would be EPA’s mistaken assumption.  Otherwise, the remaining data is from actual public announcements detailing the imminent or highly possible closure of specific units at specific power-plants.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) projected that most power-plants will retire because of EPA 316(b) cooling tower regulations.  Does this list account for the fact that EPA has since indicated it will pursue less stringent 316(b) regulations?

This list only includes the parsed files for EPA’s Transport Rule and Toxics Rule modeling.  EPA’s modeling for the 316(b) is not included.  Public unit retirement announcements largely cited the Transport Rule and Toxics Rule as causing a unit to retire; there is little discussion of 316(b) regulations.  This is likely due to the fact that EPA ultimately chose to pursue less stringent cooling tower rules than the Agency originally insinuated.  Regardless, all of the publically announced plant retirements listed are retiring due to EPA regulations.

This list compares its total numbers to NERC’s worst case analysis.  Does that include NERC’s analysis of 316(b) regulations?

No.  The NERC analysis was broken down between the Transport Rule, the Toxics Rule and 316(b) regulations.  The chart compares the list only to the NERC Transport Rule and Toxic Rule “strict,” or worst case, scenarios.




View Comments

41 Responses to “IER Identifies Coal Fired Power Plants Likely to Close as Result of EPA Regulations”

  1. aloeafficiado on

    People were protesting a local coal fired plant because they cleaned out the flues and sprayaed everything with soot at night. FPL is replacing it with a plant that burns trash. My only objection is that I pay $500/yr for trash removal so they can sell the electricity back to me.

  2. Anonymous on

    The EPA should be curtailed back to when it worked for America instead of the green tree huggers. Oil and coal built country and without it, we fail.Why do we keep sending billions to countrys that are only helping Obama destroy this country. Drill here, dig for coal here. Put millions of people back to work. Bring manufractiong back to America. Cut and harvest our timber and stop massive forrest fires.

  3. Bill7360 on

    This entire policy is attibuted Obama and His Criminal Administration. It is a Blatant attempt by our Socialist
    Government to cripple the United States! Obama has resettled an unknown number of Muslims in America
    and this could be a set up for an attack from within and from other unfriendly Nations!

  4. cechan on


  5. Glen Robinson on

    This is reall smart. With the high unemployment rate we already have he comes up with this. Think
    of the many thousands who will be out of work in these plants. Then add many thousands more
    who will be out of work in thwe coal mines. Many thousands more who haul coal in trucks, barges
    and trains will be out of work just to make a few tree huggers happy. Is this progress? Many of these
    companys will have to go out of business because they haul little else but coal. If anyone thinks this is
    progress, then let me know what you think when the lights go out. If that fruitcake has his way, hundreds
    of thousands will loose their jobs. All in the name of progress. also known as E P A. or tree huggers.

  6. Anonymous on

    With the amount of coal reserves we have, why ae we not cncentrating on finding a way to burn coal more green friendly instead of trying to bankrupt the coal industry?

  7. Ralph Spyer on

    Clean Coal is a oxymoron, there are two coal -fired Powerplants in Chicago, one is 120 years old the other only 100 years.The free market should not include the right to pollute our environment.Everyone lives downstream from someone else.

    • truckersagainstobama on

      Ralph- you fool. You have no idea the amount of energy it takes to build “green energy” wind farms or solar panels. We don’t have the energy output from so-called “green” energy to replace these plants. Once off line, they degrade quickly and most cannot be put back into service. We will not be able to recover from this. And, based upon your remarks, I suspect you will be the first to agree to rolling brown and blackouts during the winter and summer months since “everyone lives downstream…” FOOL

  8. egoist_capitalist on

    Thank you Prez Nixon! It took a little while: disconnected $US from gold – ruined the money. Created EPA – kills millions w/ ban of DDT, and worst of all!!!: the smart phones will cost too much to recharge. Now there’s a crisis.

  9. Sovereign Man David-Michael on

    If I were an owner of Anyone of these COAL fired plants, This is what I would do as recoil, I would meet with all the other coal plant owners, and agree, Its Pointless to provide service any longer for America, We all agree? And Shut down All Power output at once, Close doors and let the country SCREAM for a WEEK in the cold and DARK, After a Week Of Screaming, Obama and His Cronies, will resign like Nixon…This is an all out assualt, So fight it like one, Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to make a point, I am willing to go without, even If i have to sesort to Lighting up a Woodburner stove to stay warm…People have lost site to their past…This country hasn’t always had electricity, we used to live by candle light, Even the AMISH do well without it, Its not the end of the world, The Amish prove you can’t hold power over them in the Form of Electricity….Sometimes people need to suffer to show them who the trouble makers really are…..Hey don’t take me seriously, But after looking at this, if this trend moves forward and it looks like it WILL, I see a few things going down, in the next couple of years or sooner, Old People will be Bitching about PRICES, especially on fixed income…LMAO, The wealthy, they have no worries, BUT If these Plants do go down as projected, I SEE THE LIGHTS GOING OUT, LMAO……Now thats leveling the playing field, Rich People NO LIGHTS, Hahaha…And when they find out it was Obama’s plan…LMAO…Skin a cat….He should be impeached if he even said it…


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

Back to top