Kentucky Power sells $17.6 million in excess coal stockpiles
Kentucky Power’s Mitchell plant, which produces power for 168,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties, has sold $17.6 million in coal that it had stockpiled but will not burn because cheaper electricity can be produced from natural gas and renewables. The news is reflective of a downturn in eastern Kentucky’s coal industry, which employed 14,000 people in 2011 but fewer than 4,000 during the first three months of this year. “The sale comes amid a changing energy landscape in the country. In 1990, coal-fired power plants generated about 52 percent of the electricity in the country … by the end of 2017, coal’s share of national electricity generation had dropped to 30 percent.”
Coal Plant Closure in Kansas
Westar Energy will close the coal-fired Tecumseh Energy Center near Topeka on Oct. 1, several years ahead of schedule. The company said it will also shut down fossil-fuel-powered units at electricity plants in Colwich and Wichita as part of its merger with Great Plains Energy, the owner of Kansas City Power & Lighter. A Westar spokesperson said the merger, “along with the addition of renewable energy,” allows for the shutdowns, which won’t affect service.
Commentary: Navajo Generating Station remains economically unviable
Keeping the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona would come at a high cost. “Market conditions suggest an economic disaster any way you cut it, and one that that would cause pain for workers, miners, and other members of the Navajo Nation,” writes the author. “There are sensible ways to invest in a region in need of federal attention on many levels. This is not one of them.”
Editorial: ‘No reason to bail out coal industry’
A Texas newspaper is questioning former Energy Secretary Rick Perry—a former Texas governor—on a proposed federal program to save failing coal-fired power plants. “It’s bad economics and bad environmental policy. Perry should remember what he championed as governor. That would mean endorsing energy policies in the interest of American consumers and enterprise, not select industries.”
Commentary: Georgia is at a solar policy crossroads
Georgia, ranked 10th nationally in solar energy production, is at a policy crossroads as the industry makes rapid gains across the state. Activity includes a manufacturing facility in Dalton, a solar-powered Facebook data center in Newton, and new solar-farm approvals “every other week.” Growth calls for informed land-use codes and pushback against misinformation campaigns. “Georgians can demand smart solar siting: growing the industry, boosting local economies, and still protecting what makes the state special,” write the authors.
Study depicts Central Appalachian reclamation possibilities
Researchers at Duke University have published a visually-rich study showing how surface mining has spread over the years in Central Appalachia, leaving behind a deeply-scarred 32,000-square-mile landscape across Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia. The study notes the growing difficulties facing coal companies as coal seams are tapped out and as they have to move three times as much earth as they did 30 years ago to produce a ton of coal. The researchers want to make their findings available to local and state governments to help identify sites that qualify for federal reclamation money, including through the Abandoned Mine Lands pilot program and the RECLAIM Act.
Op-ed: Proposed Coal bailout would not stop U.S. transition to cleaner energy
A proposal by the Trump administration to save failing coal plants by invoking the Cold War-era Defense Production Act would have little lasting effect on the U.S. electricity-generation sector. A broad cross-section of executives and policymakers concur that the plan would not stop momentum behind a fast-moving transition to cleaner energy. That idea at its core is “a futile attempt to thwart long-term, fundamental change in U.S. energy markets that will proceed nonetheless, and to the benefit of customers everywhere,” the author writes.
Westmoreland Coal cancels plans for new mine in southern Ohio
Westmoreland Coal has suspended a plan to open a new mine in southern Ohio. The company, which has been in financial straits for some time, cited “steadily increasing” costs and “problems and uncertainties” with water permits. The plan had called for mine discharge to be poured into a stream that for years has been part of a recovery program aimed at cleaning up pollution from previous mines. Project opponents included farmers, environmentalists, and ATV enthusiasts.
Ohio businesses push back against coal bailout proposal
Businesses in Ohio are pushing back against plans by the Trump administration to bail out failing coal plants. Ohio’s competitive energy market is at risk, say skeptics of the proposal who see it as a subsidy that would cost electricity customers of every kind. “We favor free-market competition in all industries, including the energy industry,” said a spokesman for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We are opposed to all unbalanced state and or/federal support without a defined return on investment for the taxpayers and consumers.”
New Mexico legislators acknowledge need for greater tax-base diversification in San Juan County
Lawmakers in New Mexico are grappling with how to manage the imminent closure of a coal-fired power plant in San Juan County in a way that will protect the local tax base. The state is also exploring job-retraining programs in the area alongside policies that would encourage investment in local renewable energy and natural gas projects. The San Juan Generating Station produces millions of dollars in tax revenues for the county, and its owner, Public Service Company of New Mexico, is seeking a state deal that would support a transition to other forms of more economical power generation.