Last week brought news of several more proposed coal-fired plant closures from Canada, Georgia, Colorado, and Washington State.

Canada Moves to Close Coal-Fired Generation

A proposal reportedly unveiled by Canada’s Environment Minister Jim Prentice last week in Ottawa could force major power producers in that nation to close their coal-fired facilities between 2015 and 2025, as they reach the end of their commercial life—unless they include carbon capture and storage technology.

Prentice told executives last week that the government would set flexible rules—as opposed to setting an arbitrary date—to shut the country’s 21 coal plants, reported The Globe and Mail. The newspaper also said that the government would likely move quickly because utilities have begun planning how they would meet demand in 10 years.

Prentice reportedly proposed replacing coal-fired generation with natural gas. “What an individual company chooses to burn would be their decision, but the standard that would be expected from new licensed emission facilities is the standard of combined-cycle natural gas. Anything that is that clean or cleaner,” he told Reuters on Monday.

The proposal follows the government’s announced target to increase Canada’s reliance on non-carbon-emitting sources of power to 90% by 2020, up from the current level of 75%. Ontario has already committed to closing its coal-fired plants by 2014, but concerns remain for several other provinces—Alberta and Saskatchewan, especially—which rely on coal power for more than half of their supply.

The Ottawa meeting was attended by companies such as TransAlta Corp., Capital Power Corp, SaskPower, Ontario Power Generation, New Brunswick Power, and Nova Scotia Power.

Source: The Globe and Mail, Reuters

Georgia Power: Federal Regulations Could Prompt Coal Plant Closures

Georgia Power last week issued a request for proposals (RFP) for some 1,000 MW to meet anticipated customer demand from June 1, 2015, saying the new generation might be needed if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes new limits on mercury emissions and other hazardous air pollutants on coal plants, as is expected by March 2011.

“While no retirement decisions have been made at this time, the company is issuing the RFP to ensure a reliable and economic supply of electricity in the event that new environmental regulations lead the company to consider retirement of some coal units by 2015,” the company said in a release.

The utility, serving 2.3 million customers, is the largest in Georgia. It owns about 21,300 MW of generation capacity—about 62% of which is coal-fired.

The company asked that power supply proposals for five-, 10-, or 15-year contracts be submitted by June 22, 2010. In addition to traditional power purchase agreements, Georgia Power will also accept asset purchase and sale agreement (APSA) proposals, or the purchase of an existing generating asset already in commercial operation. “The company may also develop one or more self-build proposals in order to meet some or all of the identified need,” it said.

Source: Georgia Power

Xcel Energy to Retire, Retrofit 900-MW of Coal Power in Colorado

Colorado’s recently enacted Clean Air Clean Jobs Act requires Xcel Energy to cut nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80% at several Front Range coal plants by the end of 2017, forcing the largest utility in the state to plan to retire or retrofit 900 MW of coal-fired capacity.

The act aims to put a plan in place to tackle ozone and haze issues before federal regulators step in. The company will work with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and submit plans for possible retirements or retrofits to the Public Utilities Commission by Aug. 15. A statement from Gov. Bill Ritter’s office revealed that Xcel would give primary consideration to replacing or repowering the plants with natural gas or renewables.

Units at three Denver-area coal plants are being evaluated, including a186-MW coal unit at the Valmont plant, four units, totaling 717 MW at the Cherokee station, and a 505-MW coal unit at the Pawnee station.

Source: Office of Gov. Bill Ritter, Jr.

TransAlta to Consider Replacing 1,375-MW Coal Plant by 2025

TransAlta said on Monday it has begun formal talks with Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire and the state Department of Ecology to significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions from the 1,375-MW Centralia coal-fired plant and provide replacement capacity by 2025.

The Canadian energy company said it signed a memorandum of understanding that sets clear objectives and a definitive timeline to develop a transition to cleaner energy. The MOU follows Gov. Gregoire’s 2009 Executive Order on Climate Change, which directed the Washington state Department of Ecology to work with TransAlta to reduce the Centralia facility’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

The company acquired the Centralia plant in 2000, and it said it had invested more than $300 million into pollution controls to secure reductions in emissions. “The MOU also recognizes the need to protect the value that Centralia brings to TransAlta’s shareholders,” the company said.

Sources: TransAlta, State of Washington Department of Ecology