Coal has two issues against it. First, like oil it is a very finite resource and the closer we get to the endgame of that resource, the more costly it is to extract. Secondly, there are multiple grades of coal, from lignite to anthracite. Some burn very clean, some do not. The easiest and cheapest to get to is also the dirtiest.
So he is dead correct that to build new coal plant would be a poor investment. The only way to do so would be with very high tech systems to superclean output. BUT, that doesn't discount legacy systems, of which we have 600 in the US right now. They won't disappear overnight, or overdecade, producing over 50% of all our power requirements NOW.
So, while new plants might have "bankrupting issues" being built and put online, the 600 plants we have now will still be working away, daily.
Actually, building a new coal plant may or may not be a poor investment. Once the capital and operating costs of the varied technologies are compared, the best long term investment is selected. With the suggested cap and trade proposal, that will mean either technology to capture and put it somewhere that it can't get out or pay to emit. Building (or having) a coal plant and paying to emit still beats the renewable sources hands down with the projected values of tons of CO2. If the pricing goes up (usually comes with a reduction in the allowances made available), that can change, but it will be a significant increase to the consumer.
That's where BO seems to miss the point. Once the utility demonstrates that it has selected the best option for investment, consumers will pay. There is no bankruptcy for the utility, they'll get theirs no matter what. And, we'll get ours. It is a tax in disguise.
What I can't understand is his distaste for nuclear. It competes very very well today with coal plants for the long term and doesn't emit. Whoever has his ear (or his pocket) telling him the wind and sun can supply our baseload needs is full of it. We are an innovative people, and perhaps a technology will emerge that can meet the demands economically, but it is likely decades away.