In the American West & Midwest: Coal-fired Electricity-Generating Plants to Close

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.

 

Green Purchasing by Uncle Sam – Are You a Federal Government Supplier – Contractor?

by Hank Boerner, Chairman, G&A Institute

The United States Government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the U.S.A., and some project, in the world.  (US$500 billion in the latest budget.) So – if you are selling to Uncle Sam, tune in to the guidelines recently published the Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).  In December EPA proposed (in draft form) rules for “greener and safer” products to be purchased by the Federal government.

The public comment period is open but expect that sometime soon we will see the official guidelines for supplier companies to follow.  Part of the initiative is to assess the growing number of “eco-labels” in use by trade associations, NGOs, standard setters, etc.

Says EPA:  “These guidelines will make it easier for Federal purchasors to meet the existing goal of 95 percent sustainable purchases, while spurring consumers and private sector to use and demand greener and safer products…” The EPA and the GSA (General Services Administration) created the guidelines for agencies and departments to use in their sourcing.

To emphasize:  The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to ensure 95 percent of new contracts to be “green.”

The EPA/GSA initiative is one of the most recent steps in a continuing journey toward greater sustainability by the Federal government.  Executive Order #13514 got this journey going in earnest in October 2009, soon after President Barack Obama got his administration up and running and cabinet posts filled.  It’s officially the “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance” mandate for all government agencies to follow.

Haven’t been following this EO?  How about the one in August 2012 — “Accelerating Investment in Industrial Energy Efficiency?”  There’s sure to be lots of risk and opportunities inherent in this EO, which addresses the US industrial sector use of energy (30% of the total usage).  The Feds will encourage investment in combined heat and power systems (CHP); the effort involves key departments — Energy, Commerce, Agriculture, EPA, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

There’s lots going on at the Federal government level, and in similar activities in the trickle down into state and municipal governments, as some of the spate of EO’s call for assistance to public agencies at local levels.

We’ll be visiting the Federal government’s dramatic journey to greater sustainability to bring you more news and details…that could present risk or opportunity to your organization.

And in February (25 and 26) at the World Bank in Washington DC, Governance & Accountability Institute and partners, ISOS Group, will present a 2-day, interactive sustainability materiality and reporting workshop for public sector agencies and their suppliers and contractors.  This is the kick off of the GRI Business Transparency Program in the USA for the Public Sector (all levels).  Participants will receive certification and will enjoy specialized guidance during the 6 months that follow by G&A and ISOS.

For information — http://isosgroup.com/gri-certified-reporting/trainings/materiality/

Sector-specific sessions are now scheduled for Food & Agriculture, Beauty & Chemical, Energy & Utilities, Hotels & Tourism.  Details are at the above web site page.

You can also learn more about the agencies that you do business with as they publish their progress reports on sustainability.  These are due this month (all agencies are supposed to report in January of each year).  Also, the largest of the Federal contractors – think of Lockheed Martin or General Dynamics — are publishing sustainability reports.

Also – look at the US Postal Service and the US Army sustainability reports to get an idea of what your customers are saying about their role in the Federal sustainability journey.

Watch this space for news & updates on Federal government actions…especially as the White House issues Executive Orders in President Obama’s second (and last) term in office.