JEA Coal Plant Closure Part Of National Trend
JEA recently announced it will close a coal-fired power plant on Jacksonville’s Northside, which came online in the late 1980s. With the complex’s closure, about 200 people will lose their jobs.
The plant’s closure after nearly 30 years of service is not surprising in today’s energy climate. If you’ve been paying attention to the electric power generation business, coal fired power plants are closing all across the country.
And no, it’s not President Obama’s so-called “war on coal” that’s closing them. It’s simple economics — coal is being replaced as a fuel by natural gas, which has become super abundant in the U.S. because of fracking technology, or recovering oil and gas from shale rock.
Natural gas is about 20 percent cheaper and cleaner to burn than coal, giving electric rate payers a break on costs. And it produces far less air pollution than burning coal does, which gives our lungs a break, too.
In fact, burning natural gas now produces more electricity across the country than burning coal: about 34 percent, compared to 30 percent produced by burning coal. That’s a huge shift in the industry — a decade ago, coal-fired power plants accounted for half of the national supply of electricity. And that trend shows no sign of slowing down.