Since 2010, more than 40 percent of the nation’s 530 coal-fired power plants (100GW of capacity) have been or are slated to be retired. Of those remaining in operation, Energy Information Administration data show that, in 2019, they were operating at less than 50 percent capacity. According to analysts, the COVID-19 pandemic could set off a new wave of coal retirements. EIA forecasts a 20 percent fall in coal generation in 2020.
Between 2005-2016, the closure of 330 US coal plants resulted in saving an estimated 26,610 lives and 570 million (249–878 million) bushels of corn, soybeans and wheat in their immediate vicinities, according to a study published in Nature Sustainability. Those closures kept more than 300 million tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere, as well as other emissions.