Last week the board of directors for the Omaha Public Power District voted to delay the retirement of its 645 MW coal-fired North Omaha plant until 2026.

The plant was originally expected to retire in 2023. According to Reuters, the OPPD board’s decision was due to delays in hooking up two natural gas plants and supply chain challenges that have slowed down the implementation of large-scale solar projects.

The utility also cited interconnection delays within Southwest Power Pool (SPP) resulting in “even more uncertainty in the timing and ability of any interconnection request to get interim or full interconnection service.”

North Omaha becomes at least the sixth coal-fired plant to push back its closure date in 2022.

In June, Wisconsin utilities WEC Energy Group and Alliant Energy announced they were pushing back retirement plans at several coal plants due to concerns about tight energy supplies in the Midwest and delays in completing new wind and solar projects.

Similar challenges have surfaced in Missouri and New Mexico.

“I think the real high-level takeaway here is that we have had some really serious, lingering after effects from COVID and the shutdown in 2020, which ruins supply chains across the globe,” said Dennis Wamsted, Energy Analyst with The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

In July Wamsted authored the analysis, “Delayed U.S. coal plant closures are bumps in the road, not U-turns for energy transition.”

It notes the global supply chains that have snarled solar and wind projects and the federal government’s investigation into potentially unfair trade practices by China and the threat of retroactive tariffs. In June, President Biden did pause tariffs on solar imports for two years.

Still, Wamsted said these issues and the delay of coal plant retirements don’t represent a reversal of the energy transition.

He noted a situation where the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) delayed plans to close its San Juan coal-fired plant after pandemic-induced delays slowed the completion of new solar projects that would have replaced the 847 MW of capacity at the plant.

The utility is extending the life of its final operating unit by a few months to keep it available through the summer peak demand period. It plans to shutter the unit this fall.

“By next summer, they’ll have their replacement power constructed and online,” said Wamsted. “That’s what utilities have to do, right? They have to provide you 100% reliable power. So if you delay something for a year, or six months or two years, that’s not a change in your direction. That’s a sensible utility thing.”

Earlier in August President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. The legislation devotes nearly $370 million to clean energy incentives and could bring the U.S. in line with its Paris Agreement goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 2005 levels.

MORE: The latest reaction as Inflation Reduction Act, climate provisions pass through Senate

Wamsted said the new incentives will help ease some of the supply chain issues that are slowing the new capacity that would replace coal. However, he expects there to still be “another year, probably maybe a year and a half of supply chain ups-and-downs.”

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