Coal Plant Retirement and Retrofit

Coal-fired power plants are facing challenges on two fronts: Environmental regulations are requiring costly retrofits to clean up air and water pollution, while efficient gas-fired power plants are becoming increasingly cost competitive as natural gas prices remain low. In the face of these challenges, many coal-fired power plants have announced retirement, with more likely to come over the next decade.

The impacts of these issues are felt beyond coal-generation owners and operators. The retirement of base-load coal impacts local and regional energy markets and grid reliability, including electricity prices, natural gas prices, and transmission constraints. Deep understanding of these impacts and interconnections is imperative as our electricity sector becomes far less reliant on coal.

Navigant's coal retirement and retrofit analysis experts combine current regulations, market forecasts, and plant characteristics to identify and confirm which coal units can economically survive and which units are unlikely to be able to continue running profitably. Navigant's coal retirement analysis specifically includes:

  • Continuous tracking of retirement and retrofit announcements
  • Deep understanding of applicable regulations and advancements in retrofit technologies
  • Insight and expertise in the Natural gas and electricity markets

Coal retirement analysis is a core component in the development of electricity price forecasts which are essential to the development and operation of electricity generation.


Recently Navigant used this coal retirement analysis to identify geographic areas in need of replacement baseload generation. For this same project sensitivities were run for various gas price assumptions, showing how dependent the location and number of coal plant retirements are on future natural gas prices. The number and size of coal plants that have announced or are economically likely to retire under each scenario was quantified and mapped by NERC region.

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