How Much Would You Pay for a Coal Plant?

Acme Equities LLC is looking to buy San Juan Generating station in New Mexico for $1. The current owners plan to shut the facility down because current environmental regulations require installation of significant and expensive backend pollution control equipment. However, pollution control is not the only issue standing in the way of coal generation. In December of 2018, the Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) reported that approximately 4 GW of coal capacity is expected to retire by the end of 2019. This follows approximately 14 GW of retirement in 2018, the second highest annual retirement of coal on record. The main driver behind these retirements is the consistently low cost of natural gas. Moving forward, low natural gas costs will not be the only threat facing the coal industry, as renewable energy sources will also compete with coal. Declining capital costs associated with renewable sources and no fuel costs are beginning to make renewable sources a viable alternative. According to a study performed by Energy Innovation, approximately 211 GW, which comprises 74% of the U.S. coal-capacity, could be replaced by wind and solar and result in immediate savings. This begs the question; how much would you pay for a coal plant?

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