U.S. coal power plants close at rapid pace

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING:

"Beautiful, beautiful clean coal."


"We've ended the war on beautiful clean coal and we're putting our coal miners back to work."


Well....not exactly.


Despite President Donald Trump's pledge to save the coal industry, coal-fired power plants shut down at the second-fastest pace on record last year, according to data from the Federal government seen by Reuters.


Power companies have either retired or converted roughly 15,000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity generation in 2019, according to preliminary statistics from the Energy Information Administration and other data reported by Reuters.


That's enough energy to power about 15 million homes.


The coal industry has been in steep decline for a decade - hit by a double-whammy - concern about the role of coal in climate change hurt demand - and then there was the issue of pricing: here in the U.S. it's losing out to cheaper and more abundant alternatives like natural gas. It also can't compete with heavily-subsidized solar and wind energy.


But that hasn't stopped President Trump from making promises and claims in parts of the country where coal jobs are hemorrhaging.


SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING:

"And our great coal miners are back to work. Lot of people said that wasn't going to happen. You're back to work. Not only back to work they are opening mines all over the place."


In reality, since Trump has been in office, roughly 39,000 mega-watts of coal-fired power plant capacity has disappeared.


If that rate continues, more coal plants will have shut during Trump's 2017-2020 term than during President Obama's second term.