Coal plants are constantly being changed to fit new rules and regulations. They are also working to become more eco friendly, and trying different methods to reduce emissions. In fact, the Clean Air Interstate Rule has paved the way for even more changes to come in 2015.
The basic model hasn’t changed since its inception during the industrial revolution — burning coal = energy — but refinements to the process have improved the thermodynamic efficiency and made adaptions to “clean coal” and even biofuels possible.
Here’s a list of recently retired coal plants with starting dates, to get an idea of the average age of a plant: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Coal_plant_retirements
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