A Post-Coal ‘Playbook’ for Shuttered Plants in Pennsylvania
The state Department of Community and Economic Development has started a program to create post-closure “playbooks” for 11 coal-fired power plants. The aim of the project is to create partnerships between the companies that own the shuttered sites and developers who want to repurpose the properties. “The documents aim to describe the land available at each plant and the cost of remediating environmental hazards there as well as offer suggestions for future use. Like all good real estate agents, officials want to help would-be buyers envision the possibilities.”
Editorial: Wyoming Deserves a More Diversified Economy
The editorial board of the Casper Star-Tribune has called for a civil discussion around development of an economy that is less susceptible to the energy industry’s boom-and-bust cycle. “In order for Wyoming to flourish, the state must diversify its economy and adjust its tax structure in order to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and foster positive growth in Wyoming communities,” say the authors. “Economic diversification is crucial for the future of our great state.”
Self-Bonding Mine Cleanup Risk Looms Across Several States
New research shows how self-bonding practices by coal companies in several states put taxpayers at risk of holding the bag on mine cleanups. The issue is complicated by concerns about the ability of surety companies to stand by their obligations to backstop struggling mining companies. “As utilities continue to eliminate coal from their generation mixes, turning instead to cheaper natural gas and renewables, the financial condition of many coal companies is likely to worsen,” writes the author.
A Push in Southern Ohio for a More Diversified Economy
Athens County, Ohio, in the heart of Northern Appalachian coal country, has the biggest solar energy capacity per capital in the state, and residents are calling for more. “It’s wrong to think that this region has only a coal-country mindset,” one advocate said. “There is a push to be new energy leaders in new ways. We want to generate our own power because we want to be independent from the extractive powers that have made decisions for this region for so long.”
Coal Company Goes Silent on Montana Lease-Development Prospects
A coal-mining company has stopped communicating with Montana officials on its intentions around development of a 7,000-acre coal-reserve lease with the state. A subsidiary of Arch Coal, which went through bankruptcy reorganization in 2016, holds the lease on the tract in the Powder River Basin. Its silence “has left the state with questions about future intentions for mining and who would buy the coal given a softening domestic coal market and a projected long-term decline globally.”
Wind Boom Brings 3,000 Jobs and Billions in Infrastructure Investment to Rural New Mexico
New Mexico ranked first nationally for windfarm construction last year, according to a new study that sees the state’s rural communities benefitting especially from an influx of investment that is expected to continue. The wind industry has invested $3 billion in New Mexico and created about 3,000 jobs: “Employment runs the full gamut, from front-end field workers who assess wind resources and work with local communities to construction jobs and long-term employment for operations and maintenance folks. “Wind technicians make up one of the two fastest-growing jobs nationwide alongside solar installers.”
Commentary: Politics of Status-Quo Energy Policies Are Failing
The “decarbonization” of the economy is gaining momentum, even with stiff political resistance in Washington, as gains in technology continue to translate into cost advantages that favor wind and solar over fossil-fuel-fired electricity generation. “The renewable energy future is already pretty much here,” writes the author.
Study: Emissions-Permit Program Has Turned Into a Job Creator in Nine States
New research shows that nine eastern states have gained $1.4 billion in economic benefits over the past three years from an air pollution “cap-and-trade” policy that requires utility companies to pay for emissions permits. The program wasn’t designed as an economic-development initiative, but has become one nonetheless: “The biggest payoff came in investments in energy efficiency programs, which have led to more businesses and jobs in activities such as energy audits and installing energy-efficiency equipment.”
Public School Teachers Across the U.S. Press for More Education Investment by Energy Companies
Grassroots movements by teachers in Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia are calling for coal, gas and oil companies to invest more in local education. The movement is rooted in the premise that tax policies favoring corporations and the wealthy have not been in communities’ best interests. “Shared prosperity and natural resource extraction tend not to go hand in hand,” noted one advocate for change.
A Coming Boom Seen in Virginia’s Emerging Solar Industry
The Solar Energy Industries Association sees a nascent solar industry in Virginia tripling in generation capacity over the next five years and powering more than 200,000 homes. Growth is spurred by declining installation costs and demand from consumers. “Some industry officials and clean-energy advocates expect even-sharper growth during that timeframe and say the solar expansion almost certainly will accelerate across Virginia in the decades beyond,” says a newspaper report.