Coal has regained a little ground this year as the fuel of choice for U.S. power plants—except in Appalachia, where natural gas for electricity generation has become extremely cheap. So much gas is being pumped from the Marcellus Shale, and so few pipelines serve the area, that a glut has developed in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, driving down the price of electricity and making it hard for coal to compete. Several companies have told regulators they want to close coal plants, and one owned by a private-equity firm has filed for bankruptcy protection. Sunbury Generation LLC plans to close its 60-year-old coal plant in Shimokin Dam, Pa., north of Harrisburg, because the price for electricity it sells on the open market is just too low to cover its costs. “It is difficult to run merchant coal plants in Pennsylvania,” said Dave Meehan, the company’s president. “Even though we’re old, […]