Monday, November 02, 2015

Coal is not coming back, even if EPA regulations are halted, Appalachian Power president says

Coal is not coming back, regardless of whether the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan rules go into effect, Appalachian Power President Charles Patton said last week at the West Virginia state Energy Summit, David Gutman reports for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Patton said, "You just can’t go with new coal [plants] at this point in time. It is just not economically feasible to do so.”

Patton said Appalachian Power expects its use of coal power to be down 26 percent by 2026, "with or without the Clean Power Plan," Gutman writes. He said cheaper alternatives are making it hard for coal to compete. "The cost of natural gas electricity, including construction of power plants and infrastructure, is about $73 per megawatt hour, Patton said. For a conventional coal plant, it’s $95 per megawatt hour. Even wind power, which is less dependable than coal, is still significantly cheaper, at $73 per megawatt hour, when a longstanding tax credit for wind energy production is factored in. An advanced coal power plant, with carbon capture and storage to lower emissions, costs nearly twice as much, at $144 per megawatt hour, Patton said."

He said belief in climate change—72 percent of Americans believe the earth is getting warmer and that man-made causes are partly attributable—is largely responsible for the downturn in coal, Gutman writes. Patton said, “Americans believe there is a problem, and while we in West Virginia believe that’s ludicrous and we have our view on coal, it’s really important to understand, if you’re not in a coal-producing state, your affinity for coal is not there. The debate largely, at this point in time, has been lost.” (Read more)

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