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SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Learn About Coal Plants


highrisk-update-v1-01 Overview

Gulf Power's Lansing Smith Plant

Gulf Power’s Lansing Smith Plant

Even though dependence on coal has declined over the past decade it is still a significant part of our energy mix in the Southeast. Coal-fired power accounted for 39% of the electricity generated in the Southeast in 2013. The Southeast is home to roughly 270 coal-fired electric generating units at 82 coal plants. In 2012 alone, these coal plants emitted more than 366 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants comprise one-third of our total national carbon emissions and are the main contributor to climate disruption that causes extreme weather, such as drought, floods and superstorms.

Historically coal has been thought of as “cheap power,” the true cost of coal is extraordinary when we factor in the costs to human health and the environment. 72% of all toxic water pollution comes from coal-fired power plants, making these plants the number one source of toxic water pollution in the United States. In our region alone, we have over 118 billion gallons of toxic coal ash waste in 450 impoundments, which are dangerous to nearby communities and roadways and many are contaminating nearby groundwater and surface water. Coal plants also affect water quantity with a typical coal plant consuming 1.1 billion gallons of water per year.

Hazardous air pollution, like sulfur dioxide, from coal-fired power plants can cause asthma, heart disease, respiratory disease and a myriad of other ailments. Overall, pollution from coal plants contributes to four of the top five causes of death in the United States and is responsible for increasing the incidence of major disease in a large portion of the nation’s population.

Please take the time to learn more about how coal-fired generation impacts our world and your community. Find out how you can help SACE phase out coal-fired power plants in the Southeast.