Rural Utilities Face Financial Woes in U.S. Transition Off Coal
The public power and co-op utilities that own most of the coal plants across rural America are at risk in a low-carbon transition driven by “customer preferences and technology trends,” notwithstanding Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, Moody’s Investor Services concludes in a report issued last week.
The utilities “have consciously transitioned towards cleaner generation, even in states politically opposed to carbon regulations, because of low natural gas prices and the declining cost of renewables,” the report states. But they’ll still take a financial hit if they have to continue paying for their coal facilities after shutting them down.
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“The report says the public utilities and co-ops are facing the same challenges that their for-profit counterparts are facing, driven by a combination of state and local policies and customer preferences,” IEEFA states. “But public power and co-ops don’t have the resources to move as quickly to build more low-carbon renewable energy resources, and are much more dependent on coal because of their locations.”