Friday, April 23, 2010

"Power companies abandoning coal" (CPN; PGN; SO)

Eventually good for the natgas crowd.
From the Houston Chronicle's NewsWatch Energy blog:

More power companies are favoring natural gas or other emissions-friendly fuels over coal, because of tighter clean-air rules and big gas finds, the WSJ reported.

Houston's Calpine Corp. is the latest to announce plant conversions, the WSJ said. Wednesday the power producer said it is buying 19 power plants from Pepco Holdings for $1.65 billion. The plants are mostly natural gas and two of the coal fired plants will be converted to natural gas, Bloomberg said.

The deal gives Calpine access to a clean fleet that will boost margins, entry to the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland markets and a more diverse portfolio.

Calpine's CEO told the WSJ that it didn't want to burn coal because it prides itself on having a clean portfolio of plants powered by gas or renewable energy.

Other big utilities planning to convert their coal-fired plants are North Carolina's Progress Energy and Atlanta's Southern Co.

Progress is shutting down 11 coal plants by 2017 and building new gas-fired ones at two of the four sites. Southern plans to convert a power plant in Georgia from coal to biomass or wood waste, the WSJ said. It's also building three new gas-fried plants at its McDonough plant to retire the coal units....MORE