As many of the nation's coal plants continue to age, bringing them back up to code and extending their productive lives is becoming more and more of a costly endeavor, all the more so due to new EPA restrictions on emissions standards. When you combine that with the ever-falling price of natural gas, coal's newest and most aggressive competitor, you start to get a picture of how utilities companies are looking at coal these days, and what this could mean for the coal industry as a whole. In this video, Motley Fool energy analyst Taylor Muckerman takes us through some of the specifics of how coal companies are suffering, as the competition continues to get tougher year by year.

Joel South has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Taylor Muckerman has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Exelon and Southern Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.