In recent years, hundreds of large power plants have retired across the United States, with hundreds more nearing the end of their useful lives. At the same time, large-scale growth in natural gas, wind, and solar power is changing the nation’s electricity mix. Although much research has been carried out on the decommissioning of nuclear power plants, far less work has examined what happens to plant sites when generating units that burn coal, oil, or natural gas are retired or when wind or solar facilities reach the end of their lives. This report describes the options faced by plant owners after a plant has been retired. It examines the costs associated with decommissioning different plant types and highlights key issues that present opportunities and challenges for generating companies, regulators, local governments, and communities. Key issues include the large costs of environmental remediation and monitoring for coal-fired power plants and their combustion residuals, whether companies in deregulated markets are adequately saving for decommissioning, state and local policies for wind and solar decommissioning, and the economic and fiscal impacts of decommissioning power plants in rural areas.
Press Release — Feb 12, 2020
New Issue Brief Explores Effects of Two Key Design Choices in Clean Electricity Standards
RFF researchers model the CLEAN Future Act and the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2019.
Workshop/Seminar — Mar 5, 2020
EIA AEO2020 Alternative Cases Release: Modeling a Low-Carbon US Electric Sector
Illuminating potential influences as the US power sector transitions over time
What the Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) Means for Clean Energy in PJM
Kathryne Cleary discusses how FERC's recent order expanding its minimum offer price rule might affect renewable energy, nuclear power, and the cost of energy for consumers.