A Massive Coal Plant That Asked for Trump’s Help Has Gone Dark
Bloomberg News, 11/19/2019
At 12:09 p.m. local time on Monday — after churning out electricity for almost five decades — the largest coal-fired power plant in the western U.S. permanently closed, becoming the latest testament to the fossil fuel’s decline. Once a flash point in President Donald Trump’s campaign to save America’s coal industry, the Navajo complex in the Arizona desert will now spend the next three years being dismantled and decommissioned.
Tribal leaders spent years appealing to the Trump administration for help saving the plant, characterizing it as the president’s chance to fulfill his campaign promise to revive America’s Coal Country. The fact that the Interior Department owns a 24% stake in the complex gave him all the more reason to make an example out of it. Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke vowed to explore all options for rescuing the site.
For all its political ties, the Navajo complex proved no match against market forces. The shale boom unleashed record volumes of low-cost natural gas, undermining the economics of coal generators across the U.S. Cheaper and cleaner wind and solar farms also began squeezing the plant’s profits.
Coal simply cannot compete with low methane prices and the continued fall or renewable costs. Hydro/solar/wind power generation are the only power generation methods where the fuel comes to you. No exploring, drilling, pumping, refining, transporting by pipe or rail required.