Earth Month: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Visits Arkansas’ Turk Power Plant

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:37 pm, April 21, 2014

Emissions associated with electricity generation from coal aren’t what they used to be. Between 1970 and 2012, emissions of major pollutants from coal-based power plants decreased by more than 90 percent. We’re proud of how far our industry has come and the path forward we’re helping to forge. During “Earth Month,” we’re spotlighting some of the most cutting-edge clean coal technologies in use at plants today like the John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant or “Turk” in Fulton, Arkansas.

Turk is the first “ultra-supercritical” coal-fueled power plant in the United States which uses a combination of technologies to limit its environmental impact. The plant began generating electricity in December, 2012. Here are some of the ways Turk is leading the way in clean technology and community engagement:

  • Ultra-supercritical refers to the technology that creates an increase in steam cycle efficiency to effectively reduce fuel consumption, reagent consumption, solid waste, water use and operating costs.
  • Advanced combustion technology allows the plant to generate energy from low-sulfur coal that produces less greenhouse gas emissions (including carbon dioxide) than traditional coal-based plants.
  • The plant has installed a whole suite of efficiency measures that allows Turk to use less coal to produce the same amount of electricity as a traditional 600-megawatt power plant.
  • The plant also fuels the local community of Fulton, Arkansas with quality jobs, economic development and $6 million in annual school and property tax revenue.

Check out our new video with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., including his tour of Turk last year:

 

 

The coal industry will have invested $145 billion by 2016 to achieve concrete emissions reductions, and the investments won’t stop there. As coal remains our most affordable, reliable domestic energy source for years to come, we must continue to support clean coal technology through investment and balanced regulation.

 

 


Coal Doesn’t Only Fuel Electricity – Coal Fuels Jobs & Local Economies Across the U.S.

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:41 pm, April 17, 2014

Based on what we’ve seen, it is clear that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking to create a “one-size-fits-all” solution to greenhouse gas regulations. Last September, EPA proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) that place a de facto ban on new coal-fueled power plants. EPA gave no flexibility to states on the rule, prompting a lawsuit from Nebraska and widespread ire from other coal-dependent states. Their outrage stems from the fact that the coal industry fuels thousands of jobs, our affordable electricity, and power plants that invest in their communities. Coal supports more than 800,000 jobs across the country, and the more than 500 power plants in the U.S. sustain communities wherever they are located.

Dozens of states across the U.S. use a large percentage of coal-based power to generate their electricity. In 2013, EIA reported that 31 states generated at least one quarter of their electricity from coal, and 17 of those states generated at least half of their electricity from coal—an increase over 2012. The states that rely on coal are not all from one area, either. The top 10 states for coal-based generation including West Virginia, Missouri, Wyoming, Ohio and New Mexico have diverse economies and are scattered across the U.S. One thing they all have in common is that their electricity rates run below the national average.

Mining, transportation, and power generation employ thousands of Americans. West Virginia employed more than 22,000 miners in 2012. While it may not be surprising that a state like West Virginia is home to many coal miners, what you might not know that mining employs more than 7,000 workers in Wyoming and more than 5,000 in Alabama. According to a recent study in Nebraska, coal power generation and transportation supported 22,844 jobs in the state.

States also offer us great examples of the newest power plant technologies that are lauded on the global stage. If NSPS is enacted, local communities will miss out on new, cutting-edge power plants and the economic growth spurred by their construction.

Arkansas’ John W. Turk Plant has been operating as one of the cleanest, most efficient coal-based power plants in the US. This 600 megawatt “ultra-supercritical” plant uses less coal and produces fewer emissions while still providing affordable base load power to the local grid.

In Mississippi, the Kemper County Energy Facility has brought economic development to the local community through jobs, commerce and tax revenue. When it is complete, this plant will be the cleanest coal-based power plant in America.

States across America are picking up on the fact that the national energy policy put forth by EPA has failed to take into account their specific circumstances. Unfortunately, innovative plants like Kemper County and Turk will be a thing of the past. Other communities will be unable to construct power plants that create job opportunities, economic growth and tax revenue. Jobs will be slashed and states with high levels of coal-generation will be vulnerable to high prices and less reliability.

To support the economic growth and job opportunities coal provides to local communities, visit www.EPARegsCostJobs.com today.


Protecting Grid Reliability Now, So We Don’t Regret it Later

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 1:10 pm, April 15, 2014

Last week, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on electric grid reliability concerns—something that was definitely necessary after a series of Wall Street Journal articles came out highlighting the vulnerability of the grid if there were to be a coordinated attack in conjunction with internal analysis from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). While those that normally contribute to the discussion of grid reliability were well represented, it was notable that EPA was absent from the hearing.

This winter was one of the coldest we’ve had in a while, and the changing temperatures all but gave us whiplash. Thanks to coal-based electricity, however, none of us truly suffered the bite of Old Man Winter as the power stayed on. The same may not be true this summer when coal-fueled plants that were running at full capacity this winter come off line due to EPA regulations. In fact, we could all be in for a rude awakening when rolling brownouts and blackouts begin this summer due to an overreliance on one fuel source that is just not capable of meeting demand in real time.

In terms of generating electricity, coal-based power has some general advantages over natural gas that are magnified under conditions like the polar vortex. Natural gas is a “just-in-time fuel”, piped in as power plants use it – so pipeline disruptions due to a drop in temperature or spike in demand impact generation in real time. Coal, on the other hand, is stock-piled at the plant and generally not subject to such disruptions. Further, the price of coal has remained historically steady, whereas the price of natural gas has been much more volatile. Moving forward, we can expect that the price of natural gas will continue to rise much more rapidly than the price of coal. EIA projects that real natural gas prices for electric power generation will increase three times more than coal over the next 20 years.

Since American Electric Power (AEP) ran about 90% of its coal plants that are set to retire in 2015 to help meet demand through the coldest days of winter, it makes you wonder why people want to eliminate the most reliable form of electricity. Further, it begs the question as to why EPA isn’t front and center at a hearing on reliability when its regulations will be responsible for all but ensuring an unreliable grid and higher electricity costs for all.

There’s still time for you to tell EPA that you want a reliable source of affordable electricity. Visit www.EPAregscostjobs.com today and make your voice heard.

 


I May Have Misheard You, Sierra Club: Did You Call Job Loss “Transitioning?”

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 11:57 am, April 10, 2014

Once again, Sierra Club is talking out of both sides of its mouth. And this time, it is to the detriment of America’s union workers. The Daily Caller released an investigative piece this week outlining the backroom strategies employed by Sierra Club in an attempt to convince union workers that shutting down existing coal plants is in their best interest. Here at America’s Power, we know that such a claim couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The recently unearthed internal Sierra Club memo details how the group “spins” job losses and economic downturn that will result from the decline of our nation’s coal industry, encouraging the group’s activists to use downright deceptive tactics in order to mislead union workers. The entire memo had an air of condescension, portraying union workers as ill-informed, uneducated and easily swayed, requiring wording and concepts to be largely “dumbed down.”

The memo from Margrete Strand, former director of Sierra Club’s Labor and Trade Program, gave very clear instructions to activists:

Don’t ever use the phrase ‘killing’ to refer to jobs, business or the coal industry… Talk about transitions, phases, and gradual changes in the way we create and distribute energy.

Don’t allow Sierra Club to be branded as simply an environmental interest group juxtaposed to the interests of workers and communities.

To set the record straight, we think it’s important to note that the Sierra Club mission to dismantle the coal industry across our nation does ignore the interests of workers and communities, plain and simple. Remember, this is the same group that celebrated the shutdown of the 150th coal plant as part of its Beyond Coal campaign. In turn, Sierra Club celebrated thousands of lost jobs and widespread economic devastation in the communities that are home to these plants.

Of course, the Sierra Club will never tell its activists—or in turn, targeted constituencies like union workers—about the industry’s $130 billion dollar investment in clean coal technology to reduce major pollutants by more than 90 percent, not to mention its pledge to spend another $100 billion over the next decade to further reduce emissions.

Sierra Club does indeed want to start a transition – a transition to an economy where electricity prices and unemployment both skyrocket due to reckless environmental activism. We should, instead, “transition” to an economy that facilitates job growth, affordable power, reliable electricity and further investment in clean coal technology.

 


My Day at Kemper with Dale Jr.

Posted by Elizabeth Jennings at 10:36 am, April 09, 2014

Last week, I was able to take advantage of an extremely unique opportunity: to go visit the most talked about coal plant in the country, the Kemper County Energy Facility. If that wasn’t enough, I got to escort Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the two-time Daytona 500 Champion, on the visit.

When we arrived at Kemper, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had only seen one coal plant before in West Virginia, and even from far away it seemed absolutely massive. I couldn’t even imagine what the most up-to-date facility could be like. After getting a safety briefing, we put on our hard hats and neon vests and went to see the plant.


When we were walking around, I wondered about the light colored rock beneath my feet and I soon discovered that it was lignite coal. Mississippi alone has more than 4 billion tons of lignite, and lignite accounts for over half of the world’s coal reserves. Kemper’s 6,000 employees help convert the lignite to gas through a gasification process called TRIG technology. TRIG essentially forms a chemical reaction where the lignite turns into a synthesis gas, while reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury (carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by at least 65% when using TRIG technology.) While Kemper is criticized for its cost overruns, it’s not uncommon when dealing  with a never-been-done  project of this magnitude. Over time, facilities like Kemper (after deemed commercially viable) will be cost-efficient and produce more electricity at a lower capital cost compared to other gasification technologies. Another benefit? The captured carbon from Kemper will be  transported to a facility more than 60 miles away to be used for enhanced oil recovery.

Among carbon capture and storage (CCS), Kemper has other environmentally-friendly components. For instance, the plant is a zero liquid discharge facility which basically means that any water they use to generate electricity, doesn’t go back into nature. They even have an agreement with a neighboring city (Meridian, Mississippi) for the majority of its overflow to be funneled to the 90 acre reservoir on-site.

It was amazing to see how excited the plant workers were when they found out that Dale Jr. was on site. It was such a great surprise for all of them, and so wonderful to hear the responses they had to show their appreciation for him supporting coal-based electricity. Dale Jr. loved seeing his fans, and his fans loved seeing him. I was speaking with his girlfriend, Amy, and she was telling me about their visit to CONSOL’s Enlow Fork plant last year and how interesting it was to learn about not only the plant and the mines, but the people that dedicate their lives to ensuring we have the power we need. She was equally as excited to see Kemper and learn about the technology behind it.

On my visit, I met several people who had been on-site since day one of construction and are still there several years later, its operations are the focus of American energy’s future. There are 6,000 hard-working Americans at Kemper that take a lot of pride in their work and how far they have come.   I can’t wait to see this amazing plant come on line in the fall and to continuing to learn more about the coal-based industry – and to my next plant tour with Dale Jr.!


Leaders Convene to Discuss Future of Energy at ECO:nomics

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 3:59 pm, April 04, 2014

This week, the Wall Street Journal hosted its ECO:nomics business forum in sunny Santa Barbara, California. Several CEOs and business leaders gathered together to discuss America’s energy and environmental future. How do we meet our ever-growing electricity needs, while also reducing emissions? Many leaders agreed: coal is here to stay, and we must utilize clean coal technology.

Nick Akins, CEO of American Electric Power, reiterated the importance of coal-fueled power to support our electrical grid. Utilities like AEP depend on coal, a reality that was evident during the recent ‘polar vortexes’ and throughout the frigid winter. Around 90% of AEP’s coal plants currently slated for closure was brought online to help meet demand and power through the coldest days. As Akins told ECO:nomics attendees, we need coal backing up our electricity grid because “no one likes the lights to go out.”

Akins was followed by Peabody Energy Corp. CEO Gregory Boyce. Boyce and Akins carried a similar message: coal is critical and will be an integral part of our energy mix for years to come. It is the largest source of electricity generation in the U.S. and the fastest-growing source around the world. Boyce noted that Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are all increasing their imports of coal, and Asia has been steadily increasing its use of coal, as well.

Coal-fueled power is electrifying communities across the globe and can bring power to all those who need it most, Boyce explained. Given Boyce’s commentary at the conference, it’s not surprising that Peabody is leading a global effort to help promote coal’s role in eradicating poverty through its newly launched Advanced Energy for Life campaign.

Both Boyce and Akins stressed the importance of further developing clean coal technology. In the words of Nick Akins, “progress is being made but not enough.” Boyce pointed out that building new clean coal plants is an opportunity to decarbonize. They both agreed that coal must be a major part of our future energy portfolio to ensure reliability, while also limiting emissions with advanced technology. But, if EPA continues with its crusade against coal-based electricity, the future of clean coal technology will be effectively quashed.

Instead we should support advanced technologies and maintain low-cost, reliable power for our communities through the use of America’s most abundant source of energy – coal.


The People “Behind the Plug”

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 2:25 pm, April 01, 2014

America’s coal industry employs hundreds of thousands of workers in the United States. If you were to trace your electricity all the way from your electrical socket back to the mines that extract the coal, you would encounter a diverse group of skilled workers and learn some interesting facts along the way.

For instance, in 2012, the average U.S. coal miner was 44 years old and earned more than $80,000 annually. This is far higher than the average annual wage across the country. Also of interest, coal miners receive specialized training that allows them to do their jobs well and to do them safely.

Coal is mined in 25 states and is responsible for more than 800,000 jobs right here at home. Around one-third of these jobs are directly tied to coal mining, while two-thirds represent indirect jobs. When a mine shuts down, it unleashes a domino effect of lost jobs, lost hours and lost wages for all those workers who support our electricity generation—from start to finish.

Kentucky alone saw a 40 percent drop in coal-based employment between July 2011 and July 2013. Additional jobs were lost in the second half of last year. Bill Bissett, Kentucky Coal Council president, recently told us that in Eastern Kentucky, seven thousand direct mining jobs have been lost. Yet, as staggering as this figure may sound, it fails to include the thousands of other jobs that are in jeopardy—not only indirectly tied to mine operation and power generation, but also from businesses that depend on affordable power from coal.

These skilled, well-paying, American jobs are vanishing before our eyes due to President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overzealous actions to regulate carbon emissions, irrespective of the real-world costs. .

A recent report by the Nebraska Public Power District concluded that coal transportation and power generation, contribute $1.4 billion in labor income and more than 22,800 jobs in Nebraska. It’s hard to fathom how President Obama and his EPA can claim that their rules won’t uproot American jobs or cause economic harm when we know firsthand that the opposite is true.

It is readily apparent that the EPA and environmental groups continuously ignore the collateral damage of their climate agenda. Help us protect American jobs, America’s economy and America’s energy future today by filing a comment with the EPA.


A Day with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:37 pm, March 27, 2014

Last week, I had the fun privilege of spending the day with our partner and NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. As a small business owner, Dale Jr. appreciates the importance of affordable energy. His businesses, JR Motorsports and Whisky River rely on affordable coal-based electricity to prep his cars and serve his customers. Without reliable, low-cost power from coal, which comprises more than half of North Carolina’s energy portfolio, the future of businesses like Dale Jr.’s could be jeopardized.

During our visit, Dale Jr. sat down with Dave Green, a mine rescue captain with Alpha Natural Resources to learn more about the cutting-edge safety technologies being used by companies like Alpha, which have taken impressive strides to improve safety in the coal production process. It was a great conversation and we look forward to sharing it with you in June.

Dale Jr. also conducted a number of radio interviews, including:

But aside from “talking shop,” we were able to have some fun too. On set, Dale Jr. took photos with #7 driver Regan Smith’s America’s Power car, in his own fire suit and even with Killer, his adorable bull dog:

All in all, it was a great day and we look forward to continuing a fantastic partnership with Dale Jr. and JR Motorsports – and hopefully seeing Dale win the Sprint Cup this year!

Stay tuned in the coming months for more from our day with Dale Jr.