Indiana utility to shutter five remaining coal plants
Northern Indiana Public Service Company has announced plans to close its five remaining coal-fired plants and replace them with renewable electricity generation. NIPSCO, as the utility is known for short, provides power to 468,000 households and businesses. “This creates a vision for the future that is better for our customers, and it’s consistent with our goal to transition to the best cost, cleanest electric supply mix available while maintaining reliability, diversity and flexibility for technology and market changes,” said company’s president.
Wyoming moves to close reclamation loophole for mining companies
Wyoming is moving closer to limiting “self-bonding” by coal companies that use the practice to avoid buying mine-cleanup insurance. State officials are worried that taxpayers will be left holding the reclamation bag on vast tracts of the Powder River Basin unless the loophole is closed. “Wyoming is not a bank,” said the administrator of the state’s main conservation agency. “We’re not in the business of bankrolling reclamation.”
Private equity company ends bid to buy Navajo generating station
Private equity company Middle River Power LLC is ending its bid to buy Navajo Generating Station, the biggest coal-fired power station west of the Mississippi River.
Commentary: Hurricanes show the value in moving from conventional to renewable electricity-generation sources
Solar arrays held up in North Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Florence while complications arose from other forms of generation that include coal-fired and nuclear power. “This is not the first time modern renewables have proven their resiliency in the face of storms,” writes the author, noting how windfarms in Texas fared well during Hurricane Harvey last year, how Hawaii’s growing solar industry has weathered recent storms there, and how residents of Puerto Rico found solar a life-saver after Hurricane Maria.
West Virginia coal lobby seeks a 60% state tax cut
The West Virginia Coal Association is pushing for a cut in in state taxes on coal extraction that would reduce the rate by more than half—to 2 percent from 5 percent. The tax pays for a host of state and county services, and the proposal follows a series of pronouncements from mining companies that coal production in the region is on the rebound. “That would take a lot of resources out of this state’s budget,” one state legislator said.
Op-ed: The U.S. military’s embrace of power-generation transition
Contrary to what some elected officials have suggested, the U.S. military knows what it is doing as it embraces renewable energy. A case in point: U.S. Army base Fort Hood’s integration of wind into its electricity-generation mix. “Wind power can also play an important role in strengthening our military and national security. There’s a prime example right here in Texas: Fort Hood gets around half of its electricity from wind and solar, and securing the base’s energy supply was a prime motivator for this move,” write the authors.
Texas grid operators turned to wind over the long course of a hot summer
The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the power grid across most of the state, upstage naysayers this summer by turning heavily to wind-powered generation over coal while simultaneously keeping rates down and avoiding heat-wave blackouts. “ERCOT proved grids can shut down uneconomical coal plants, rely on renewable energy and still provide reliability and reasonable prices.”
U.S. utility-scale solar power activity is surging
Trump administration tariffs meant to curb expansion of the U.S. solar energy have proven ineffective, concludes a report published this week by the Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables research group and the Solar Energy Industries Association. The two groups estimate that deals for 8.6 gigawatts of new utility-scale solar were made in the first half of the year—enough capacity to power 1.4 million homes—and said solar industry’s expansion would continue.
Survey: Deep reluctance across power-generation industry to reinvest in coal
A survey of utility industry executives reveals an industrywide reluctance to keep aging coal plants alive or to invest further in coal-fired power generation. "We will continue to focus on retiring older, less-efficient, coal-fueled units; building advanced-technology natural gas units; and investing in cost-effective, zero-carbon renewable generation,” said one utility representative in a comment that was typical of responses nationally.
Op-ed: There are better ways to spend $34 billion
Dedicating $34 billion toward a bailout of outdated modes of electricity generation isn’t in the best national interest, and federal money would be far better spent on grid cybersecurity and modernization. “Consider what else can be done with the taxpayer dollars DOE proposes the government spend to subsidize failing coal and nuclear plants,” writes the author.