The decision by U.S. power company Dynegy to pull out of planned power plant projects means that "coal-fired power is one big step closer to being mothballed once and for all," according to Green America, formerly known as "Co-op America."
On Friday, Dynegy canceled its joint development agreement with LS Power to build a new fleet of coal plants. Although LS Power retains the right to develop the projects on their own, Dynegy is far larger than LS Power, and without Dynegy's support LS Power will have a much harder time raising funds and securing long-term purchase agreements which enable new power plants to move forward. Green America was a leader in putting pressure on Dynegy to pull the plug on its coal-fired power plant expansion plans.
In May 2008, Green America climate action campaign coordinator Yochi Zakai warned investors attending Dynegy's annual shareholder meeting about the massive cost of carbon regulation to the company and also raised concerns about the toll of its coal plants on surrounding communities and its impact on climate change. Heeding that message, Dynegy's stock rose 38 cents on Friday as investors acknowledged the risk that new coal plants represented.
Zakai said: "Dynegy -- the company that was being called 'the next King Coal' for its extensive new power plant plans -- has all but given up pursuit of that throne. 2009 promises to be a landmark growth year for clean energy and with this development coal-fired power is one step closer to being mothballed once and for all in the U.S."
Under the terms of Friday's announcement, Dynegy cut its ties to coal-fired power plant plans in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan and Nevada. LS Power may continue development on the Arkansas coal plant, and Dynegy currently plans to move ahead with plans to build a new plant in Texas. Green America and other groups vow to continue fighting these new coal plants.
The environmental community had labeled Dynegy "the next King Coal" in response to their plans to build the coal plants, the largest new coal fleet proposed in the USA. Last spring thousands of Green America members spoke up to urge Dynegy to cancel the plants. Working with individual and institutional investors, Green America raised concerns about Dynegy's climate risk consistently over the past year.
"America doesn't need dirty, expensive coal-fired power plants. A focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy will be far more cost-effective for meeting power needs going forward," said Todd Larsen, Green America's director of Corporate Responsibility. "Investing in efficiency and clean energy will jump start our economy, America's quest for energy independence and the victory over the climate crisis."