Keeping up with coal-to-clean energy transition with Energy Trend Tracker

September 2, 2014

With Labor Day upon us, we figured it would be an opportune time to take a quick look at all the hard work that’s gone on over the summer on the transition from coal to clean energy.

Resource Media developed Energy Trend Tracker at the beginning of the year as a means of shining a spotlight on key stories, quotes, charts, photos and data points in the coal and clean energy realm. The Tracker is meant to be an easy-to-use tool to provide communicators with the building blocks they need to help craft great stories in support of the coal-to-clean energy narrative.

As the list below indicates, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep up with the growing momentum.

Just in the past month we’ve seen Oregon deny a company’s permit for a proposed coal export terminal, a report from GE that determined wind is better than coal for helping maintain grid resiliency in major power disruptions, and the Labor Day capper …

A report by the nonprofit business group Environmental Entrepreneurs showing that the clean energy and clean transportation sectors added more than 12,500 new jobs during the second quarter this year. That’s twice as many jobs as the first quarter of the year, led by the solar industry, which announced 5,300 new jobs during the second three months of 2014.

So on that fine jobs note, here’s a capsule of some the best – or worst, if you happen to be big fan of outdated coal – news of the summer.

Clean Energy

  • Xcel Energy is boosting its windpower by 40% because “wind is simply proving to be the lowest-cost option for meeting our customers’ energy needs.”
  • A record $8.7 million bid for offshore wind at an auction for rights to wind off Maryland’s coast.
  • solar-revolution-UCSA 79% jump in solar installations in the Q1 2014 – the second-largest ever for solar installations in the history of the market, according to SEIA.
  • A survey by GE finds that the vast majority of utility customers nationwide want more solar, wind and clean, renewable energy.
  • The biggest reason solar is taking over the U.S., says investing guru The Motley Fool, is “because it is cost competitive with other energy sources.”
  • A Bloomberg analysis projects that over the next 15 years, global installations of renewable energy will dwarf those of new fossil fuel projects, accounting for as much as two-thirds of a $7.7 trillion pot of gold.
  • All-time low prices on the global market for new solar PV modules.
  • A Nevada study determines that rooftop solar provides substantial cost benefits to ALL customers, including those who do not have them installed.


  • Ohioans strongly favor moving forward with clean energy and are against spending money to continue using coal.
  • EIA data show the nation’s coal-fired power plants are sitting idle more frequently, with the average utilization rate of the coal fleet dropping 15 percentage points since 2006.
  • A bleak market for coal, with the value of major U.S. coal companies plummeting by nearly two-thirds, a loss of almost $41 billion in just the past three years.
  • A majority of Montana voters voice their opposition to mining coal in Montana and then shipping it by railroad for export to China.
  • China’s announcement that Beijing will ban the use of coal in the city’s six main districts by the end of 2020.
  • Costly bottlenecks in rail deliveries of coal cause major headaches for utilities and could force some plants to shut down for lack of fuel.
  • Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says it’s important for his state to figure out a way to eliminate coal from its energy mix.
  • A new South Korean tax on coal imports of roughly $16 to $18 per metric ton puts a damper on export plans to meet Asian coal demand.
  • The World Council of Churches and other religious organizations decide to pull their investments out of fossil fuel businesses, including coal.
  • An Appeals Court ruling affirms the EPA’s authority to makes decisions that protect water quality from the impacts of MTR.
  • NY officials decide that a power plant closed by damage from Superstorm Sandy can re-open but will not be allowed to burn coal because of air quality issues.
  • A Texas-based utility serving about 400,000 customers announces that it will be coal-free by 2016.

Stay up-to-date with all the latest updates — be sure to follow us on Twitter @RMEnergyTracker.

Eric Frankowski

Top image adapted from Marcel Oosterwijk via Creative Commons.