The Last Coal Power Plants In New England Are Shutting Down

The Merrimack and Schiller stations in New Hampshire have been closed, making New England the second area after the Pacific Northwest to stop burning coal.

The owner’s declaration states that the facilities will be converted into solar farms and storage units to store power produced by offshore wind turbines along the Atlantic Coast.

Plants in New Hampshire were the target of a protracted court struggle by environmentalists who claimed the facilities discharged too hot water into a neighboring river from their steam turbines.

The facility owners, Granite Shore Power, agreed on Wednesday that Merrimack would stop operations by June 2028 and Schiller would stop operations by December 31, 2025.

In recent years, New Hampshire’s two power facilities have only been operational intermittently during periods of peak demand.

As the price of natural gas and other energy sources like wind and solar has dropped, coal’s use has declined dramatically in the US. Approximately 17% of the power generated in the US in 2023 came from coal. Rising energy demand throughout the country may delay retirement plans for a few coal-fired facilities, but overall, analysts say the coal sector is in the wrong place.

An astounding 59% of carbon emissions from power generation in 2021 came from coal, the most polluting fossil fuel. According to the E.P.A., coal provided less than 25% of the total power in the US that year, which is surprising considering its substantial environmental effect.

Along with litigation and lobbying campaigns, climate activists used a further tactic to force coal plants to close: they forced them to compete in the power market.

A New England-based environmental advocacy organization called the Conservation Law Foundation has been pushing New Hampshire politicians and state electrical regulators for a long time.

The foundation gambled that the power plant owner would choose renewable energy or other cheaper alternatives to coal after the transmission company was split.

One of the Conservation Law Foundation’s VPs, Tom Irwin, claims that ratepayers kept the coal power plants running despite their inefficiency. They are financially well-supported.

When Granite Shore Power bought the power plants in 2018, the foundation’s efforts paid off since the new owners planned to make the coal generators greener.