EIA examines electric generating capacity retirements

Published on January 13, 2022 by Douglas Clark

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The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest inventory of electric generators maintains operators have scheduled 14.9 gigawatts (GW) of electric generating capacity to retire domestically during 2022.

Per the EIA analysis, the majority of the scheduled retirements are coal-fired power plants, representing 85 percent, followed by natural gas and nuclear.

Retirement of coal-fired generators is slated to rise in the form of 12.6 GW of coal capacity slated to retire this year, amounting to 6 percent of the coal-fired generating capacity operating at the end of last year, according to the EIA.

The report detailed the 1,305-megawatt (MW) William H. Zimmer plant in Ohio is the largest coal power plant planning to retire this year. Maryland has designs on retiring its two coal-fired units in June, followed by two of them the plant’s six smaller petroleum-fired units in September.

A prior EIA report outlining plans to retire coal-fired power plants by 2035 showed the average operating coal-fired generating unit in the United States is 45 years old. When they retire, units will have approximately 50 years of service based on their planned retirement dates.

Coal plants are retiring as the coal fleet ages and as coal-fired generators face increasing competition from natural gas and renewables.

This year 1.2 GW of domestic natural gas-fired capacity is scheduled for retirement, while nuclear capacity retirements represent 5 percent of expected retirements this year.