New England Coal Use to End by 2028 in Favor of More Wind and Solar Power

New England’s march toward clean energy just took a big step forward.

On March 27, the utility operator of the last two coal-fired power plants in New England announced plans to retire them and turn them into “renewable energy parks” that will generate solar power and store electricity from wind turbines being built off the Atlantic Coast.  

An angled, overhead view of the Merrimack coal station.
The Merrimack Power Station in Bow, NH, is New England’s last operating coal-fired power plant.  In 2028, it will be retired and replaced with 100 MW of solar power and battery storage. (Source:  Granite Shore Power).

The Schiller and Merrimack power stations, both located in New Hampshire, will be shut down by mid-2028, making New England the second region in the country, after the Pacific Northwest, to stop burning coal altogether.  These closures, which come after hard-fought litigation, will also make New Hampshire the 16th state in the nation to announce plans to phase out coal-fired generation, according to the Sierra Club, which has been advocating for this change for well over a decade.    

Under the regulatory settlement, which also has the backing of the New England-based Conservation Law Foundation, the Schiller Station in Portsmouth, NH, will close by the end of 2025 and be repowered with a battery storage system to receive offshore wind power.  The Merrimack Station in Bow, NH, will be retired by June 2028 and will host about 100 megawatts of solar power, along with battery storage, on its 400-acre site.

Granite Shore Power acquired these two coal-fired power plants from Eversource New Hampshire (formerly Public Service Company of New Hampshire) in 2018, separating these utilities’ generating and transmission assets.  Now Granite State Power is making good on its pledge to phase out these environmentally challenged facilities in favor of clean, renewable energy and battery storage to reliably support the peak energy demands of its customers and make offshore wind power “a reality in New Hampshire,” according to a company press release.

Once installed, the 100-MW solar park at the Merrimack station in Bow will become the largest solar generating site in New Hampshire.  As of 2023, the Granite State had about 260 MW  of grid-connected solar power

Coal Goes Out with a Whimper in New England

The Schiller and Merrimack power stations will hardly be missed from an operating standpoint.  Neither station has provided any baseload generation for more than a decade, and the 150-MW Schiller plant hasn’t burned any coal as fuel since 2020.  The 460-MW Merrimack Station is now relegated to “peaker” service only, providing power to the grid only on the region’s hottest or coldest days.  Together, these two aging facilities make up less than 1% of New England’s annual power generation.  

The Merrimack Power Station began operation in 1960 and has long drawn the ire of environmental groups over air and water quality concerns – including daily discharge of millions of gallons of cooling water into the Merrimack River at temperatures often exceeding 90° F.  Economic concerns began to mount when the projected cost of installing new mercury-control scrubbers at the plant soared from $250 million to $422 million by the time they were installed in 2011.  These scrubbers have reduced the plant’s mercury emissions by 96-98 percent.

In 2018, the Sierra Club and Conservation Law Foundation helped broker a sale of these generating assets from PSCNH (now Eversource) to Granite Shore Power, with the understanding that these coal-fired units would transition into less polluting operations and much cheaper renewable energy sources over time.

Proyecto Vineyard
Offshore wind power being built off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and in the Gulf of Maine will be transmitted via underwater cables to the Schiller Power Station in Portsmouth, NH.  The Schiller Station is being converted into a utility-scale battery storage facility to bring offshore wind power to New Hampshire and the New England grid.  (Source:  Iberdola)

In the final settlement agreement announced on March 27, Granite Shore Power committed to retiring the Schiller plant by Dec. 31, 2025, and to shut down the Merrimack facility June 2028.  CEO Jim Andrews said in a company press release that repowering the Schiller Station with solar power and batteries “will provide carbon neutral power to support the businesses and families of New Hampshire.”  He credited the Inflation Reduction Act and a continued shift toward a more electrified economy as making on-demand generation resources “more critical than ever to ensure electric reliability for New Englanders.”

Another Nail in the Coffin for Coal

Coal use has dropped rapidly nationwide in recent years in favor of more natural gas and renewable fuels like wind and solar that have become far cheaper to use.  Coal, as the dirtiest fossil fuel, accounted for 59 percent of carbon emissions from electricity in 2021, even though it generated less than a quarter of all electricity produced nationwide that year, according to the EPA.

For many decades, coal plants generated about half of the power produced in the U.S. and, as recently as 2015, coal generated more electricity than any other domestic power source.  However, as of 2023, coal fell to only 17 percent of U.S. electricity generation – about the same as solar and wind power, both of which are moving up fast.  

Largely because of deteriorating environmental and economic conditions, a whopping 22.3 gigawatts of coal-fired electric generating capacity were retired in 2022 and 2023.  While operators of a few coal-fired plants could delay planned retirements over the next several years because of surging national demand for electricity, the U.S. coal industry remains in sharp decline.  Another 13 GW are slated to be retired in 2024 and 2025.

An aerial view of a solar power plant

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Aerial view of an operating solar power plant equipped with battery storage. (Source:  Softbank)

Fortunately, you don’t have to wait any longer to make your own switch to carbon-free solar power!  Solaflect Energy can install a solar Trackers in your back yard or field this spring, with a savings of over $11,000 thanks to the 30% federal investment tax credit and a spring installation incentive.  To arrange a free site evaluation, email us at, call us at (802) 649-3700, or click the red button below.  Working together, the power is in our hands to make a difference in energy use and in the fight against climate change.

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