Archive for July, 2011

The Coal Wire: New Advancements in How Carbon Dioxide is Captured and Used

Yesterday, we talked about how coal can not only continue to generate affordable electricity well into the future, but also can do so in an in an increasingly clean manner. Both the public and private sector have been investing largely in these technologies, and continue to make advancements, especially in the area of carbon capture and storage.

In Montana, the federal government is working with Montana State University to invest in a project that will advance the storage of carbon emissions:

Montana State University has finalized negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy to begin work on a $67 million, eight-year project to inject and monitor a million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into deep porous rock formations in northern Montana in one of the largest CO2 storage test projects in the country.

In Alabama, Southern Company hosted the Electric Power Research Institute’s annual CCS meeting, where EPRI showcased progress being made in the advanced coal technologies being developed:

“Southern Company remains committed to developing carbon capture and storage technology because we believe 21st century coal must be a resource for the future,” said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning.  “Technology development is critical to keeping coal a part of our energy mix, along with nuclear, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency, and we have one of the utility industry’s few in-house research and development programs focused on CCS technology.”

Captured carbon emissions aren’t only being stored. They have long been used for enhanced oil recovery purposes. That’s why the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) passed a resolution urging the federal government into invest more in these CCS-EOR projects:

Members of NARUC approved a resolution that urges the 112th Congress and the Obama administration “to restore and increase funding as soon as possible, and eliminate regulatory impediments including, but not limited to, 100% grants to qualified applicants at power plants with a sufficient number of demonstration projects at commercial scale to yield economical use by the oil and gas industry.”

Click here to see how carbon capture and storage technologies work, and how these technologies help our environment while ensuring a reliable supply of affordable electricity.

Developing Technologies to Balance Economic, Energy and Environmental Security

America’s abundant coal reserves – and our continued use of coal to generate electricity – promotes greater U.S. energy security. The reason is simple: the coal we rely upon is found right here at home, and we have a more than 200-year supply based upon today’s rate of usage. Because of this abundance the U.S. power industry has invested about $90 billion since 1990 to deploy advanced coal technologies to reduce air emissions – while at the same time providing affordable, reliable electricity to meet growing energy needs. And as I pointed out on Monday, coal’s affordability allows businesses to create more jobs, which means more economic security for American families.

As coal needs to remain a fuel for America’s balanced energy portfolio, the coal-based electricity industry is committed to ensuring that future is a clean one. That’s why people like Mark Dunkerley, an engineer and project manager for CONSOL Energy in Pittsburgh, are working on new advanced coal technologies to make coal-fueled power even more efficient:

Mark works on these technologies because he wants to take care of our environment, while also keeping coal as an affordable, reliable source of power:

Click here to learn more about how current advanced coal technologies reduce emissions and increase the operational efficiency of power plants.

Three Things You Should Know About Why Americans Depend on Affordable Coal

Why is coal so important? For working families, less money spent on electricity bills means more money for other household necessities. For businesses, providing a reliable supply of affordable electricity is key to getting our economy back on track so we can maintain existing jobs and create millions of new ones.

America’s economic future is on everyone’s mind these days. And how we rebuild our economy and create jobs is at the forefront of our national debate. One of the primary advantages of using coal is the affordable electricity it creates. Here are three things you need to know about coal’s affordability.

First, states that use more coal to energy electricity have lower electricity rates. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration data, electricity in the 34 states that rely on coal as 59 percent of their power is around 20 percent cheaper than the national average. But for states that use less coal, the 16 that rely on coal for only nine percent of their power, electricity is around 30 percent more expensive than the national average. Check it out:

Second, three of the five states in America with the lowest retail electricity prices rely upon coal to generate 80 percent or more of their electricity. Wyoming, Kentucky and Utah rely coal for on 89 percent, 93 percent and 81 percent of their electricity, respectively. They rank first, fourth and fifth for lowest retail electricity costs in the nation.

Third, electricity generated with coal is significantly less expensive than even its closest neighbors, like natural gas. Data from FERC (shown below) shows that in 2010, the average cost of baseload electricity generated with natural gas was 47 percent more expensive than electricity generated with coal. The production cost of coal-fueled generation averaged approximately $33 per megawatt-hour, compared to almost $49 per megawatt-hour for combined cycle natural gas.

Click here to learn more about coal’s affordability, and how it helps American families and job creators.

Four Things You Should Know About EPA Regulations and Our Economic Recovery

Energy and environmental issues continue to be a hot topic among policymakers in Washington, D.C. At the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), we want to promote policy solutions that balance economic growth, energy security and environmental protection.

That’s why you may have seen the first in a series of print advertisements to tell policymakers that, when it comes to new EPA regulations on power plants, all factors must be considered surrounding their impacts. This is especially true during uncertain economic times like these. The ad shows four things you and your elected officials need to know about these regulations and how they would impact our economy.

Nearly half of America’s power comes from coal. These regulations affect coal-fueled power plants in a way that will cost jobs and raise electricity prices. Our job with advertisements like these is to make sure that our decision-makers have all the information they need before they make the choices that could harm our economic recovery. To learn more, click here to see the recent initial analysis of these new EPA regulations that we reference from the National Economic Research Associates.

Sierra Club, Bloomberg’s ‘Beyond Coal’ Campaign Would Move America ‘Beyond Jobs’

Alexandria, Va. –  Bloomberg Philanthropies announced this morning that it is donating $50 million to the Sierra Club’s ‘Beyond Coal’ Campaign.  In response, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity Senior Vice President, Communications Evan Tracey released the following statement:

“The ‘Beyond Coal’ campaign actually would move America beyond jobs.  Mayor Bloomberg’s millions will be spent on a plan that would result in higher electricity rates for millions of Americans, fewer jobs, and less competitive American businesses. We believe Americans wisely will reject that vision.

“Coal is responsible for nearly half of all electricity generated in the United States, and is being used more cleanly than ever.  In fact, thanks to clean coal technology, major air pollutants from coal-fueled power plants are more than 80 percent lower (per kilowatt hour of electricity generated) than 30 years ago.

“Rather than demonize an important national strategic resource, Mayor Bloomberg should be using his millions to push for a balanced energy policy that utilizes all our domestic sources of energy including coal.”

Baseload vs. Peaking Power: Coal’s Domestic and Global Importance to Reliable Electricity

With energy demand continuing to rise in America and worldwide, we’re going to need all of our available domestic energy resources to help keep our country running, including more coal. Why?

Electricity is produced in baseload power and peaking power. Baseload power is the energy necessary to keep the electricity grid energized and meet a constant demand. Peaking power is energy that comes on and off throughout the day, when electricity usage and energy demand goes up. Peaking power uses intermittent power resources like solar and wind that produce electricity only when there’s sufficient direct sunlight or sufficient sustained wind speed. For baseload power, you must use hard-path fuels such as coal, which can provide power 24 hours per day.

When I visited Kansas last summer, I spoke with State Senate Commerce Committee Chair Karin Brownlee, who pointed out that affordable baseload power means more economic growth for Kansas and all of America.

Coal also has a global role to play in providing reliable electricity. Yesterday on CNBC, Peabody Energy CEO Gregory Boyce showed that coal is one of the only fuels with the capacity to deliver power to those that don’t currently have adequate access to electricity:

Click here for more information on why coal needs to remain part of a baseload power foundation in a balanced energy portfolio.

America’s Electric Vehicle Future, Powered by Coal

Today, President Obama’s Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, gave keynote address at the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Workshop in Detroit, a project jointly held by DOE and the Department of the Army, and toured an electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility in Romulus, Mich.

The rise of electric vehicles represents a revolution in transportation that can dramatically reduce imports of foreign energy sources, create good jobs in the U.S., and improve the environment. We believe coal will help provide the electricity to power this fleet of electric vehicles across the nation.

Electric vehicles are great for Americans for two reasons. First, these cars will run on electricity rather than on petroleum products that often come from other countries. Powering cars from domestic fuel sources has the added benefit of ensuring greater national security.

Second, energy produced for electric vehicles can be produced by power plants with advanced coal technologies. This will greatly reduce emissions being released into the atmosphere by every car without increasing emissions in the electric power sector. That’s why the federal government is committed to investing in both technologies as they did in a research facility at the University of Kentucky last year:

The 36,000-square-foot laboratory — an expansion of UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research at Spindletop Research Park — will be used to research advanced batteries for electric cars, biofuels, clean coal technology and solar energy. he grant “significantly advances efforts to make Kentucky a leader not only in energy research but in developing and manufacturing the high-tech batteries that will power the cars of the future,” Gov. Steve Beshear said during a Capitol news conference …

Coal is a vital national security asset for the United States, with our nation having more reserves of recoverable coal within its borders than any other country. And with advanced coal technologies, we can achieve a smaller environmental footprint for both the transportation and electric power sectors.

The Reality of Energy Costs and the Budgets of American Families

Amid debates on Capitol Hill and state houses about our nation’s energy future, the burden of energy costs that American households carry cannot be overlooked.

According to a study released earlier this year, among consumer energy products, electricity has maintained relatively low annual price increases since 2001. And coal-based generation, which provides almost one-half of America’s electricity supply, has contributed to the relative stability of consumer electricity prices.

How would you be impacted by potential legislation or regulations that might increase electricity prices? Let’s take a look at three of the states this study focuses on when it comes to how much energy costs eat into low- and middle-income families’ budget at levels usually spent on other necessities such as food, housing, or health care:

  • Missouri: In 2010, while the average Missouri family spent an average of 12% of their after-tax incomes on energy, the 1.3 million Show Me State households earning less than $50,000  (representing 55% of households) allocated an estimated 20% of their after-tax incomes to energy.
  • Pennsylvania: In 2010, while the average Pennsylvania family spent an average of 10% of their after-tax incomes on energy, the 2.5 million Keystone State households earning less than $50,000  (representing 51% of households) allocated an estimated 19% of their after-tax incomes to energy.
  • Ohio: In 2010, while the average Ohio family spent an average of 12% of their after-tax incomes on energy, the 2.5 million Buckeye State households earning less than $50,000  (representing 55% of households) allocated an estimated 20% of their after-tax incomes to energy.

To grow our economy and help American families meet their budgets, it is critical we support policies that will contain energy costs, not increase them. Potential legislation and regulations that significantly increase energy costs are going to take the greatest toll on low- to middle-income families.

With this study looking at energy cost burdens for families in 27 different states, click here to see how much energy costs impact a family budget where you live.