The coal industry comes tumbling down in the American West

The end of an era, a dark, toxic and earth-warming era that is finally coming to a close. While jobs are being phased out as the coal industry fades, it is crucial to note that clean energy jobs in the US are booming. ‘As a result of the industry’s consistent growth, clean energy accounted for more than 40 percent of America’s entire energy workforce and over 2.25% of the nation’s overall employment at the end of 2019.’ The US now has nearly 3.5 million clean energy jobs with roughly 1/2 million of these jobs in the solar and wind energy industries alone.

The demolition capped off another tumultuous year for coal power. The industry helped build the modern West, but it’s collapsing as utility companies turn to natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines for lower-cost electricity, and as voters demand cleaner energy to reduce air pollution and confront the climate crisis.

Despite a slight increase in coal production in the third quarter compared to the previous one, the period marked a new low in average coal mine employment with just 40,458 jobs, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis. Average quarterly coal mining employment fell 23.6% from the first quarter of 2017, when Trump took office, to the most recent quarter.

For a good read on the debate between renewables and natural gas, read this in-depth article from the New York Time. “Proponents of renewable energy note that solar panels are…the cheapest source of electricity. Solar panels can deliver power to 650 homes for one hour — one megawatt-hour in industry jargon — at $31 to $111 a megawatt-hour, according to Lazard, the investment firm. By comparison, natural gas peaking plants, which utilities can turn on and off quickly to meet surging demand, deliver power at $122 to $162 a megawatt-hour.”

More on the exciting plunge in the cost of solar is HERE.