Communities across America – from New Hampshire to Arizona, Alaska to Florida – all depend on low-cost coal for electricity. Energy is not a regional issue, nor is it a partisan issue; it is everyone’s issue. American families and businesses alike depend on affordable electricity to power their daily lives.
Throughout the years, America’s Power has had the chance to meet real Americans in real communities across the country who have shared their stories with us. Sitting down at their kitchen tables, walking through their communities and visiting their businesses, we’ve witnessed firsthand how policy made in Washington, D.C. impacts these men and women. We’ve spoken with a wide array of stakeholders, including parents, small business owners, manufacturers, corporate leaders, community leaders, and more.
These are real people telling their personal stories. They aren’t glamorous or staged; they are honest and candid. As the fight to protect affordable energy from coal against onerous regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues, it seems President Obama, EPA Administrator McCarthy and others in the administration have no interest in hearing the perspectives of those they represent—and those who will bear the greatest burden of their policymaking.
Since Washington won’t visit these communities, we’re sharing their important stories in our “Real People, Real Stories” video series.
Stand with these Americans by voicing your opposition to EPA policies that jeopardize affordable, dependable electricity from coal.
Yesterday afternoon, the Department of Interior announced that they will be leasing new tracts of land in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, containing an estimated 758 million tons of low sulfur coal. The lease is estimated to generate $13.4 to $21.3 billion in revenue for the state and federal government.
President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, was in Cheyenne for the announcement, touting the economic importance of coal to the region and the country:
Coal is a critical component of America’s comprehensive energy portfolio as well as Wyoming’s economy … As the number one coal producer from public lands, Wyoming provided nearly 40 percent of the domestic coal used to generate electricity last year and it’s important that we continue to encourage safe production of this important resource.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead (R) joined Salazar in Cheyenne and discussed the jobs that are created by the coal-based electricity industry:
The electricity our country needs to thrive has to come from somewhere and right now coal powers many of our cities and industries. This coal also keeps Wyoming men and women working.
Over two years ago, I talked with Gov. Mead’s predecessor, now-former Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D – Wyo.), about the need for the U.S. to maintain a balanced energy portfolio that includes coal:
To learn more about the role domestic coal plays when it comes to our energy portfolio, listen to Shane Evans of Arch Coal’s Thunder Basin mine in Wyoming talk about how coal-based electricity keeps America strong and how it provides good-paying jobs.
Want to know more about how you can help protect jobs and the economy? Visit AmericasPower.org/SaveJobs to sign a petition that will encourage our senators to prevent EPA regulations that could result in negative economic impacts.
At the Department of Energy, the National Energy Technology Laboratory is beginning research into new information technologies that would help commercialize carbon capture and storage projects faster. The Carbon Capture Journal reports that industry, government and academic institutions are working together to bring new, cost-effective CCS technologies to market:
The Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has begun research under the Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative (CCSI), partnering with other national laboratories, universities, and industry to develop computational modeling and simulation tools to accelerate commercialization of CCS technologies … While the ultimate goal of the CCSI is to deliver a set of tools that can simulate scale-up of a broad suite of new carbon capture technologies, from laboratory to commercial scale, the first 5 years of the project will focus on developing capabilities applicable to oxy-combustion and post-combustion capture by solid sorbents and advanced solvents … The CCSI’s industrial partners represent the power generation industry and power equipment manufacturers. The initial industrial partners are ADA Environmental Solutions, Alstom Power, Ameren, Babcock Power, Babcock & Wilcox, Chevron, EPRI, Eastman, Fluor, General Electric, Ramgen Power Systems, and Southern Company.
Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified at a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing yesterday, explaining why he continues to see government play a role in advanced coal technology investments:
A wholly-owned subsidiary of Dallas, Texas-based Denbury Resources Inc. has entered into a contract to purchase 70 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from Mississippi Power Company’s Kemper County Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle project … Mississippi Power will capture, clean, compress and deliver an estimated 115 million cubic feet per day of CO2 to Denbury’s Heidelberg Field. First deliveries are expected in 2014.
Advanced coal technologies also allow our federal government and our private sector work with other governments and companies abroad. The Clean Techies blog explains that U.S.-Chinese cooperation on carbon capture and storage projects is one of the top collaborations between the two countries in the clean energy technology sector:
[The] 21st Century Coal Program (CERC-ACTV) promotes a cleaner use of coal resources, such as large-scale carbon capture and storage projects. The program calls for collaboration between a number of companies in the United States, including General Electric, AES, and Peabody Energy, which will be working with a number of Chinese companies to develop an integrated gasification combined cycle power plants, methane capture, as well as a number of other technologies.
The employment impact of moving to a new generation of advanced coal technology is well documented and impressive. We know these are good jobs from a long track record of employment in the related construction, manufacturing, maintenance and operational aspects of power generating facilities
Click here for more information on how CCS technologies work.
At the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, we often talk about the benefits of coal as it relates to affordable, reliable and abundant power. But coal’s benefits don’t stop at the power plant.
I traveled to Denver for a conference that gathered experts who specialize in using material left over from coal combustion. In the first video below, I talk with David Goss, a coal combustion byproducts consultant, about the types of materials created by coal after it generates electricity:
Coal combustion products don’t only contribute to the construction, agricultural and other industries; it can make current materials used in other industries better. In this video, James Roewer, executive director of the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, explains to me how coal combustion products are recycled to conserve natural resources, energy resources, and land resources to create a better, more environmentally friendly type of concrete for construction projects:
What we’ve learned is that advanced coal technologies aren’t limited to coal’s combustion. Using coal to make electricity yields useful byproducts, creating markets for what otherwise would be disposed of as waste. Coal-based electricity generation provides additional benefits through conservation and recycling of byproducts for beneficial use.
Last week, Steve showed us why securing baseload power with affordable sources of energy like coal is so critical to our economy, especially in Kansas where the Sunflower Holcomb plant expansion would be providing reliable electricity to that region.
This week, we want to re-introduce you to Venita McCellon-Allen, Executive Vice President at American Electric Power. With rising energy demand in this country, especially in residential areas, Venita explained to us why her responsibility is to always keep the lights on and provide baseload power to AEP’s customers:
As Venita says, “We build plants to meet our customers’ expectations. And we have to meet that expectation for reliable electricity in an affordable way. Coal helps us do that.”
The important thing to remember is that coal isn’t here to replace any other fossil fuel or renewable sources of energy. Coal is here to add to America’s energy source portfolio, and clean coal technologies give our most reliable source of energy less of an environmental footprint. According to Venita, “what the future brings is a portfolio of supply options” to serve our economy.
Yesterday, we showed you how the Sunflower Holcomb plant expansion would be create jobs in Kansas while using state-of-the-art emissions-control systems that are the model of future coal-fueled electricity generation.
Yet jobs aren’t the only way the Holcomb expansion would benefit our economy. In the following video, Sunflower Electric COO Kyle Nelson, explains to me what baseload power is, and why coal is an important source of energy to keep baseload power affordable.
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 can use intermittent power sources like solar and wind that produce electricity only when there’s sufficient direct sunlight or sufficient sustained wind speed. And while using renewable sources like solar and wind to diversify our peaking power is a great option when conditions allow, baseload power must use more reliable fuels such as coal, which can provide energy 24 hours a day.
As State Senate Commerce Committee Chair Karin Brownlee points out in the video, affordable baseload power through the use of coal means more economic growth for Kansas and all of America:
“Kansas needs what we call baseload power,” Brownlee said. “When you have an adequate source of power, you can grow your economy. You can recruit new industries to come that might utilize a lot of power.”
As winter begins and the year comes to a close, many Americans are hoping for two things, a boost to their local economy and for staples like food, heating and electricity to stay affordable. Two months ago, we released a study showing just how beneficial the Sunflower Holcomb plant expansion would be for the Kansas economy, but we also wanted to find out how the people of Hays feel about the project. So we went there to do just that.
The team and I traveled to Hays and talked to people who would benefit from the Holcomb power plant expansion like small business owners and residents. The expansions planned for the plant will put in to place the most up-to-date emissions-reduction systems, which will make Holcomb among the cleanest in the nation on completion.
In this video, I talk to Sunflower Electric COO Kyle Nelson, who shares with us the state-of-the-art emissions-control systems planned for the plant. I also caught up with Rich Kramer, life-long Hays resident and owner of local business Insurance Planning, Inc., and Karen Dreiling, who relies on affordable electricity to run her store, The Furniture Look.
On top of the advanced clean coal technologies that are going to make the current plant one of the cleanest in the nation, the Holcomb expansion also means jobs jobs jobs for Western Kansas. State Senate Commerce Committee Chair Karin Brownlee knows how important jobs are for her state, and shared with me here how necessary the Holcomb expansion is for Kansas’ economic health.
Heading off to Emporia, Kansas, I also talked to Richard Taylor and David Kendrick of the Kansas State Building & Constructions Trades Council. Taylor says that this “once in a career type project” will benefit “every corner of this state.”
“Projects like this do a lot of things besides just build the building,” Kendrick adds. “The people that come to the job site earn a living wage and they spend it in the local economies, local businesses, local restaurants. The school districts will see a huge impact in their funding because the people working in that area.”
In fact, the annual economic activity is expected to near $350 million upon completion of the plant according to Kansas State University economists.
For the past two decades, China has successfully developed clean coal technologies with supercritical and ultra-supercritical coal-fueled power plants, and has successfully commercialized them on a very large scale.
This success is why the Department of Energy is investing in methods to make advanced clean coal technologies, like carbon capture and storage, more affordable so that they can also be successfully commercialized.
All of this depends on a long term, bipartisan energy policy and continued investment into energy research and development.
Watch Chu make these three very important points in this video:
Secretary Chu is right: “Wealth creation is driven by innovation.” And the innovations that have been made in clean coal technologies by the coal-based electricity industry of the past few decades gives us a great foundation for the industry to develop tomorrow’s innovations in carbon capture and storage, technologies that can use one of our most abundant and affordable sources of energy as a part of this country’s clean energy future.
Mike Duncan is the president and CEO for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the use of coal...
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Laura Sheehan Senior Vice President
Laura Sheehan is a seasoned public affairs expert with more than a 20-year track record in policy communications, media relations, crisis and issues management, community and...
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China Riddle Communications Coordinator
China Riddle is a Communications Coordinator at ACCCE. Growing up in the heart of coal country, China understands the important role coal-based power plays in America’s energy and economic future. Read Full Biography +
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is committed to the idea that America can have the affordable, reliable electricity we need, with the clean environment we want. ACCCE’s Behind the Plug blog is the place for up-to-date news and analysis on clean coal technology developments and energy policy progress.
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