CEO of the Largest Utility Says Coal Isn’t Coming Back

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The CEO of the largest public utility company in the entire country says coal is not coming back because it's not the cheapest way to provide energy.

I think most of us already know that, but Tennessee Valley Authority CEO Bill Johnson also said something else that I want to highlight.

Trump's war on regulations isn't going to make a difference because regulations had no impact on the decision.

Johnson said the retirement of many of TVA's coal plants was the cheapest way to serve customers, which include more than 9 million people in seven southeastern states. Natural gas prices, not regulation, caused the recent downturn for coal, Johnson said.

"Our statutory duty is to produce electricity at the lowest feasible rate," Johnson said in an interview with The Associated Press. "And when we decided to close the coal plants, that was the math we were doing. We weren't trying to comply with the Clean Power Plan or anything else. What's the cheapest way to serve the customer? It turned out to be retiring those coal plants."

They "weren't trying to comply with the Clean Power Plan," he says, because the Clean Power Plan was never actually implemented.

Many people, including, I suspect, a significant number of liberals, probably don't realize that some of President Obama's most significant regulatory policies, from the regulation of Methane emissions to the Clean Power Plan, have been held up in court for years and have had little if any impact on the energy industry.

Left to its own devices, the infallible, revered, all-powerful and holy hand of the Free Market has guided the energy sector toward cleaner and cheaper sources of energy.

The War on Coal, as it were, ended without a single shot being fired.

  • That would mean enlightening the public and journalists don’t do that anymore. No money in it.

    • ninjaf

      Even a sidebar box with links to their own content with her platform information would suffice. But I am working under the assumption that the actually have such content. (Yeah, right.)

      • Oh, they know, they know. They’re just afraid to be called…..gasp!…..a LIBERAL. Dun dun duhhhhh!

        • ninjaf

          Well, ah do declare! Fetch me mah faintin’ couch!

  • Christopher Foxx

    No, of McConnell’s desire to be vindictive and hurt people.

    He won his re-election campaign, by a wide margin. So what does it matter how much money the unions spent opposing him? And here he has a chance to benefit his constituents at ZERO cost to himself. His position in office is secure, he could hand the other side a political defeat by supporting a bipartisan effort (his opponents would find it harder to paint him as bad when he supports things they support). There is nothing but win for him.

    But he’d rather harm people.

    • ninjaf

      He is definitely a petty, vindictive man. He is willing to literally bring our country to its knees to not allow Barack Obama a victory. See: Obamacare, Garland nomination, and the Russian election interference.

  • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

    Don’t forget….tRumpf loves the undereducated….but not enough to let them have basic healthcare.
    What he is saying is: good luck finding a job in the coal industry that has been diminishing for decades and don’t talk to me when your stupid ass is dying of black lung disease.

  • muselet

    Those coal miners who voted for Trump thinking they’d get their (dangerous) jobs back got played by a cheap grifter.

    The only ones who will (briefly) benefit from the Trump administration’s obsession with coal are the presidents of coal companies, companies that operate coal-fired plants, companies that specialize in remediation after toxic spills, legal firms specializing in suing coal companies over coalworker’s pneumoconiosis …

    … and the funeral industry.


    • JMAshby
      • muselet


        I have a great deal of sympathy for the miners who are about to be royally screwed by Donald Trump—because he hasn’t the first idea what he’s doing—and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell—because they’re soulless ghouls—really I do. I’m losing patience with them, though.

        They got conned. They did the political equivalent of answering an email from someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince. It’s embarrassing as hell, but they need to own up to it—sooner rather than later—and stop getting talked into playing Three Card Monte.

        Instead they continue to justify voting for a flim-flam man.

        If you don’t admit your mistakes, how are you going to learn from them?


        • Draxiar

          It’s frustrating reading those stories because Hillary had detailed plans to help them with their health and careers. They chose the wrong grail.

          • ninjaf

            I kept thinking the whole time that it would be good for a mention from the NYT (or any of these Trump-voter-that-got-suckered articles) of what Trump’s opponent had proposed to do for them. Even a side-bar or something. It might help some of those people who like to live in their bubble see that they are getting bamboozled every election. Not just this one.

          • muselet


      • ninjaf

        “Last year, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, appeared reluctant to expedite a vote on a permanent fix despite bipartisan support, and despite representing a state where several thousand retirees are affected.

        “One reason for his lack of enthusiasm may have been the hundreds of thousands of dollars the union spent opposing him in his most recent re-election campaign.”

        Yet another example of Mitch McConnell’s craven desire for power vs. any desire to help his constituents.

      • I love how that article ends…”he’s helped the rich companies but nothing for us so far”

        So far?! They’re still expecting him to do anything other than enrich himself and other billionaires?! Good god almighty…