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2017-05-26. Coal Country’s Power Plants Are Turning Away From Coal.

posted May 28, 2017, 10:14 PM by Alan Gould

By Diane Cardwell and Clifford Krauss, The New York Times. For GSS Energy Use chapter 4. Excerpt: Coal is on the defensive in the nation’s power industry. Even in coal country. The pressure to shift more of the country’s electric supply to renewable sources is not just a rallying cry for environmentalists. Some of the power industry’s biggest customers, like General Motors and Microsoft, have made a commitment to clean energy. And to help them meet it — and keep them from taking their business elsewhere — utilities are changing their ways. West Virginia, where coal is king, is no exception. Appalachian Power, the leading utility there, is quickly shifting toward natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar, even as President Trump calls for a coal renaissance. Appalachian Power still burns plenty of coal, but in recent years it has closed three coal-fired plants and converted two others to gas, reducing its dependence on coal to 61 percent last year, down from 74 percent in 2012. ...It’s the same story in Virginia, where Dominion, a leading utility based in Richmond — near where commercial coal mining got its start — designed a special rate to make it easier for Amazon Web Services and similar customers to buy renewable energy. ...And in Wyoming, the nation’s leading coal producer by far, Black Hills Energy worked with Microsoft to create a complex arrangement for the technology giant to get enough wind energy to fulfill current and future needs at Microsoft’s data center in Cheyenne. “I’ve not spoken to a single utility that’s truly holding on to a future of more coal,” said Brian Janous, who directs energy strategy at Microsoft. “They’re looking to attract, as in the Appalachian case, new customers, and those customers aren’t attracted by coal.”...  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/26/business/energy-environment/coal-power-renewable-energy.html