by Hank Boerner – Chair/Chief Strategist / G&A Institute
February 22, 2017
Momentum Forward! – 2017
Some good news to share: Several large American coal-fired electric utility plant operators are abandoning the burning of coal and moving to natural gas and renewables to generate electricity. This news was reported by The Washington Post on February 14th. Headline: “The West’s largest coal-fired power plan is closing. not even Trump can save it.”
Top of the news: a plant in Arizona that is the largest coal-fired facility in the western part of the United States (the 2,250-MW Navajo Generation Station outside Page, AZ) will be de-commissioned by the owners/operators at the end of 2019 — decades before expected, said the Post.
In the era of low natural gas prices, the use of coal would cost more to produce electric power, which would be passed on to the rate base. The US EPA had listed the plant as the #3 of the major carbon-emitting facilities.
The facility is operated by the Salt River Project, utility companies and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation*. The facility serves the Phoenix area.
The downside: members of the Navajo and Hopi tribes would (1) lose their jobs in the Kayenta Mine that provides that provides the coal, and (2) the tribes will lose certain royalty payments. Cautionary note: The tribes of other operators could step up to continue operations.
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And less than a month earlier, in the State of Ohio the Dayton Power & Light Company and the Sierra Club reached agr3eement to close two plants (Killen and Stuart) which are coal-fired facilities. These will close in mid-2018. Stuart is a 2,440-MW plant; Killen is 666-MW.
Dayton Power & Light will develop solar power facilities to generate about half of the 555-MW by 2022.
The state’s Public Utilities Commission has the plan for its approval from DP&L. This is good news for environmental NGOs and Ohio consumers; rate payers would be paying more for their electric power with coal — and be breathing in the results of coal-burning.
All of this, of course, comes as President Trump continues to promise to bring back coal mining, and signed an Executive Order to remove the obstacle for mining companies to dump wastes into surface waters (something that President Obama moved to prevent).
The shift from coal to natural gas: Forward Momentum in 2017 for sustainability!
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Footnote: About the Bureau of Land Reclamation*, from its web site: Established in 1902, the Bureau of Reclamation is best known for the dams, powerplants, and canals it constructed in the 17 western states. These water projects led to homesteading and promoted the economic development of the West. Reclamation has constructed more than 600 dams and reservoirs including Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and Grand Coulee on the Columbia River.
The Bureau is the largest wholesaler of water in the country, bringing water to more than 31 million people, and provided one-out-of-five Western farmers (140,000) with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland that produce 60% of the nation’s vegetables and 25% of its fruits and nuts.