Coal Doubters Block New Wave of Coal Plants

Written by Becky Tarbotton

Topics: Coal

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Today’s article in the Wall Street Journal “Coal Doubters Block New Wave of Coal Plants” paints a pretty grim picture of the fate coal — even (gasp) so-called ‘clean coal’ – pointing to a recent recommendation by a Minnesota public utilities commission hearing judge to reject buying electricity from a proposed coal gasification plant capable of capturing carbon because it would double energy costs to consumers. Finally, the excessively high costs of clean coal gets a little air-time!

From coast to coast, plans for a new generation of coal-fired power plants are falling by the wayside as states conclude that conventional coal plants are too dirty to build and the cost of cleaner plants is too high.

The article even goes on to point out that the banks have started to sit up and take notice that coal might just not be quite the best investment:

In the wake of the fading coal proposals, and others that are expected to follow, Citigroup downgraded the stocks of coal-mining companies last week, noting that “prophesies of a new wave of coal-fired generation have vaporized.” On Monday, Steve Leer, chief executive of Arch Coal Inc., said some of the power plants he had expected to be built “may get stalled due to the uncertainty over climate concerns.”

We can’t rest on our laurels though — building “cleaner coal” plants may be ridiculously expensive, but if we’re going to keep old plants on life-support instead, that’s no solution either. Nor is nuclear (obviously) — even on a pure economic accounting. Natural Gas? Sure, it’s cleaner, but do I hear the sound of billions of dollars being spent on infrastructure that will be absolutely obsolete within our lifetimes? (When the gas runs out I suppose we could use the pipelines to transport…..uhhh….Kool Aid?) Why not shuffle all that money on over to efficiency and renewables starting now?

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