"U.S. Coal-Fired Power Plants: Update or Close?"

"The owners of power plants that burn coal are playing high-stakes poker as they decide whether to install expensive pollution controls or shut down."

"If one were to sketch a family tree of eastern U.S. power plants, the Gallatin Fossil Plant outside Nashville, Tenn., and the Big Sandy Power Plant in eastern Kentucky might be distant cousins. Separated by 300 miles of Cumberland Plateau, the two hulking coal burners share lineage as power plants that helped industrialize the South after World War II.

 The plants' respective owners, the Tennessee Valley Authority and American Electric Power Co. Inc., also have some things in common. They are two of the nation's largest electric utilities with a combined 14 million customers in 17 contiguous states from Ohio to Texas. Both also have long histories of bringing inexpensive power to Appalachia, one of the nation's poorest regions.

But when it comes to their futures, the Gallatin and Big Sandy coal plants have met sharply divergent paths, with significant implications for their surrounding regions. The 976-megawatt Gallatin plant, built in the 1950s on a bend in the Cumberland River 30 miles east of downtown Nashville, will soon undergo an estimated $1.1 billion in upgrades to its environmental controls, potentially securing the plant's operation well into the 21st century."

Daniel Cusick reports for ClimateWire via Scientific American May 20, 2013.

Source: ClimateWire, 05/22/2013