Adapting to Coal Plant Closures: A Framework to Understand State Energy Transition Resistance
34 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2021 Last revised: 4 Feb 2022
Date Written: February 8, 2021
In response to market pressures and renewable generation mandates, utilities are making the decision to close coal-fired generation assets prior to their scheduled retirement dates. Impacts of early coal-plant closures to workers and communities can be devastating. The conventional response among state policy makers has been to create short term programs to transition workers and provide local economic development assistance. However, through detailed comparative analysis of energy transition policies among states in the Rocky Mountain region a heterogeneity of policy choices emerges. Notably, this includes energy transition resistance, efforts to thwart or delay coal-plant closures and other changes consistent with a shift towards renewable generation. The article unpacks the underlying drivers of energy transition resistance as closely tied to fossil-dependent revenue models and suggests the need for both state-level policies and federal investments in economic diversification.
Keywords: climate change, energy transition, environmental law, public utility law, fossil fuels, workforce transition, economic redevelopment, industrial transition
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