The New York Times reports that renewable energy sources including wind and solar power are now regularly outproducing coal fired electric power plants in the United States.

Just 10 years ago, almost 50 percent of electricity came from coal but lower costs are now driving up renewables and increasing making coal the dirty fuel of a bygone age. In 10 years, the cost of wind farms has declined by 40% while solar costs are down more than 80%.…

… (In 2020) America’s fleet of wind turbines, solar panels and hydroelectric dams have produced more electricity than coal on 90 separate days — shattering last year’s record of 38 days for the entire year. On May 1 in Texas, wind power alone supplied nearly three times as much electricity as coal did.

The latest report from the Energy Information Administration estimates that America’s total coal consumption will fall by nearly one-quarter this year, and coal plants are expected to provide just 19 percent of the nation’s electricity, dropping for the first time below both nuclear power and renewable power, a category that includes wind, solar, hydroelectric dams, geothermal and biomass…

Large power companies, including Duke Energy in the Southeast and Xcel Energy in the Midwest, are currently planning to retire at least four dozen large coal plants by 2025, and no utility is currently planning to build a new coal facility.…

According to  an article in  Investopedia, updated June 2019,  about 50,000 coal miners were employed in the US, declining from about 90,000 in 2012. The same article said the US has 260,00 jobs related to solar power alone.

Coal is taking a further hit as low natural gas prices are making it even less competitive, the result of the pandemic and Saudi Arabia’s and Russia’s move to oversupply oil and drive US fracking oil out the market and the companies that produce it out of business.

This should have political implications that may be subtle but real:

  • Both coal and petroleum companies will have less money to invest in political campaigns.
  • Areas of the US that have been dependent on coal mining will continue to decline in population, affecting especially West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. This is especially important in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania whose coal mining and oil fracking regions will see more outflows of people while the Philadelphia region is growing slowly in population.…
  • Texas may someday notice that employment and political influence is shifting from fossil fuel companies to wind and solar power. Even as the petroleum companies are laying off many thousands and capping unprofitable oil wells, Texas generates 28,000 megawatts of wind power, making it fifth in the world if it were an independent country.…
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