After the recent announcement from the Tennessee Valley Authority that eight more coal plants will be permanently shutdown, the research firm SNL Energy lowered its estimates of the amount of coal power generation that will be in use at the start of the next decade. While coal power generation is still a cost leader today, cheap natural gas feed-stock and potential carbon tax legislation could further hamper the maimed industry.  

The good news for producers is coal-powered electric generation will still be a big player worldwide for at least the majority of this century. While coal companies are incredibly cheap, investors still need to be selective to find hidden gems in the space. 

This segment is from Tuesday's edition of "Digging for Value," in which sector analysts Joel South and Taylor Muckerman discuss energy and materials news with host Alison Southwick. The twice-weekly show can be viewed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It can also be found on Twitter, along with our extended coverage of the energy and materials sectors @TMFEnergy.

Joel South has no position in any stocks mentioned. Taylor Muckerman owns shares of CONSOL Energy. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.