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Coal Regulations Could Hike Energy Costs as Much as 80 Percent

A lump of coal for communities: Second-generation technologies to bring the price down aren’t expected to be available until 2022 at the earliest.

by
Bill Straub

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February 19, 2014 - 11:02 pm
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WASHINGTON – Environmental regulations imposed on newly constructed coal-fired power plants could hike the wholesale cost of electricity in some areas by as much as 80 percent, according to a high-ranking Obama administration energy official.

Dr. S. Julio Friedmann, the deputy assistant secretary for clean coal in the Department of Energy, told a House subcommittee last week that those costs are expected to decline once technology advances. But even then the price of electricity will remain higher than current costs.

The precise wholesale hike will vary from plant to plant, depending on factors like the type of coal used and technology implemented.

“Typically we express these costs as a range, so for the first generation technology…we’re looking at something on the order of $70 to $90 a ton,” Friedmann told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “In that context that looks something like a 70 to 80 percent increase on the wholesale price of electricity.”

Under second generation technologies currently under development, which aren’t expected to be available until 2022 at the earliest, Friedmann said there exists “a strong expectation that that number will be roughly half – we’ll be looking at something like a 40 or $50 a ton cost.”

The retail price increase will “vary by market,” Friedmann said.

“One of the points that I would like to make though, it is, in fact, a substantial percentage increase in the cost of electricity but in part that is because the current price of coal is so low that it represents a large percentage increase,” he said.

According to the Department of Energy, the cost of a ton of coal as of Feb. 7 ranged from $62.18 for coal from Central Appalachia to $36 from the Uinta Basin in Eastern Utah.

The steep increase is the result of new rules implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency requiring any new power plant coming on line to use carbon capture and sequestration technologies intended to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases dispatched into the atmosphere. Climatologists maintain man-made greenhouse gases are a primary contributor to global climate change.

A number of lawmakers and utility officials assert installing the carbon capture technology in newly constructed power plants can’t be accomplished in a fiscally sustainable manner, meaning power companies will turn to alternative fuel sources like natural gas.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), the subcommittee chairman, said increased electrical costs will make it “even more difficult for families and U.S. manufacturers to compete.”

“The costs to produce electricity have to come down by a large amount to make any successfully demonstrated CCS systems commercially viable in the open market,” Murphy said, adding that “if coal power plants cost too much, nobody will build them.”

The National Energy Technology Laboratory furthermore determined that carbon capture technologies are not ready for implementation on commercial coal-based power plants because they have not been demonstrated at appropriate scale, require about 33 percent of a plant’s steam and power to operate and are cost prohibitive.

All Comments   (24)
All Comments   (24)
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The irritating thing about coal is that the only reason we are using it in such quantities today was Robert Byrd's scheme to regulate natural gas prices once they left the state they were produced in. You pump gas in Texas it has one price, then the Feds triple it when it goes over state lines. The end of this absurdity gave us Enron in its first (honest) incarnation. The problem is a coal plant is a big amortized investment. We will progress inexorably to Natural Gas as coal plants age out, but that is going to take some serious time.

Just like the Dems though, they make a law to benefit one crony group, and then when the Senior Senator from the KKK dies, the zeitgeist moves to the Enviroreligious Left and all previous promises are null and void. It's like "clean energy from wind", the "wave of the future" until they missed a graft payment or something and built a windmill you could see from The Kennedy Compound...now they are "cuisinarts of the sky"...also, some people started making actual money and they began sneaking up on glimmerings of economic viability. Can't have that! Energy must be kept rare and expensive, affordable only by virtuous government and our betters.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
MT Geoff, OK so CO2's primary heat-related factor diminishes logarithmically? Based on basic energy balance calculations, without an atmosphere, Venus would be about 55 degrees Celsius. With a CO2 atmospheric % of 96% and a diminishing effect of CO2, Venus shouldn't be too hot. However, the 500 degree Celcius surface temperature indicates that CO2 does have a pretty significant effect.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Venus is not a good example of the "greenhouse effect." It is 30% closer to the Sun than the Earth and its CO2 atmosphere is much denser than ours with barometric pressure approximately 92 times that of the Earth. Mars' atmosphere also is mostly CO2 but it is colder than the earth.
5 days ago
5 days ago Link To Comment
http://pjmedia.com/blog/coal-regulations-could-hike-energy-costs-as-much-as-80-percent/?show-at-comment=514182#comment-514182
Water vapor does the heavy lifting of atmospheric warming but is dependent upon the ambient temperature. The more the atmosphere warms up, the greater effect it has, ditto with cooling. It is best viewed as a magnifier of change occcuring through other mechanisms. When factoring in H2O's dependency as a variable, CO2 drives the thermal forcing.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
If CO2 is the major factor in climate, the question that must be asked is how did ice ages occur in the past with higher levels of CO2 than today. For example the Ordovician Ice Age occurred when CO2 levels were 11 times higher than today's levels according to ice core studies.
5 days ago
5 days ago Link To Comment
Now you're trying for the positive feedback loop, but the information we have and the observations we have indicate it does not exist.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry frgough, that is simply wrong. Different chemicals have varying amounts of influence on global climate change. The one feature of CO2 that makes it's effect most significant is it's 'dwell time'. Once released from the hydrocarbon, C02 will circulate within the biosphere (atmosphere, ocean) for at least several hundred years before it ceases to have a warming effect. Ocean warming, sea ice extent and increasing global temperatures are all testamony to the warming effects of atmospheric CO2.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
CO2 may circulate for a while before it cycles through the various systems again. So what?
CO2's primary heat-related factor is that it diminishes logarithmically. Doubling the CO2 produces less than half again the heat-trapping effect, which is pretty small to start with.
The big heat-trapping component of the atmosphere is vapor of oxidized hydrogen.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
"....because the current price of coal is so low...." Says who?

Coal is priced at what the market will bear. And therein lies the problem. These elitist think that they, rather then the market, should set prices. Because only when prices are set a "proper" levels will people be encouraged to act "properly".

It's all about control, people.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
EPA already closed some 89 or so coal fired electric energy producing plants, devastating large swaths of Appalacia. There are six states touching on or directly benefitting from coal: New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia (W.Virginia), Ohio, N. Carolina, and Kentucky. These states religiously vote for Democrats. Democrats have voted for this administration and have allowed EPA to run rough shod over these States whose main source of jobs, livelihood and community is COAL. What's THAT ALL ABOUT?
EXPLAIN TO ONE, WHY VOTE FOR POVERTY???? What is missing in this equation? When does an American citizen finally wake-up and discard the shackles of serfdom (Democrats)? Can't these communities see the criminal behavior of all the Washington DC Elites having destroyed these communities dreams, families and futures? Wake-up America! Damn! Vote for MORE COAL FIRED electric energy producing plants in your areas. JEEZ! Pray. Amen. EPA is closing another 129 of these plants in 2014! Did you know that? Join a Tea Party, urgently. Harry Reid, closed a geo-thermal energy producing plant in Nevada...only to have a newly minted one built (already underway) this year. DID YOU know THAT? "YOU-SCRATCH-MY-BACK-I'LL-SCRATCH-YOURS" The criminals are in WASHINGTON DC. Support an ArticleV committee for:1)term limits, 2)balanced budget and 3)return of States Rights.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, but if you look into these carbon capture schemes, they are all thermodynamicly pointless.

The big problem is that combustion air is 80% nitrogen. If you burn up the oxygen to make CO2, the waste stream is 80% an inert gas, nitrogen. Extracting the CO2 requires a reaction that itself requires energy.

An alternate approach is to purify the air first to feed the coal furnance pure O2. That takes a LOT of energy but make the waste stream much easier to process. The pure oygen costs more than the coal!

The whole notion of "clean coal" is a ruse and a huge waste of money.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Trapping the CO2 has the same effect on the climate that releasing it does.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
So the Obama administration has basically made it cost prohibitive to build a new coal fired power plant in the US. The end result is coal gets exported to other countries and the US burns natural gas to make electricity. Lose-Lose for consumers in flyover country who get higher bills for both electricity and natural gas for heat. Less impact for Northeastern consumers using hydroelectric power and heating oil.

I'm not inherently opposed to alternative energy. Might make sense for an individual to convert dollars into solar energy hardware as a hedge against inflation, but it would better if the government ended the war on savings and the war on coal. Let alternative energy compete in a less distorted market.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment

And, the coal gets burned anyway, after it has been hauled halfway around the globe, just not by us.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
In many cases by people who let the real pollutants just go up the stack. Our stacks are gas and steam stacks. Chinese stacks are smoke stacks.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would feel much better burning clean coal than banking on nuclear energy which as we know from Fukishima & Love Canal can be dicey & make us glow in the dark for 2 generations. Or high-tech/high-cost windmills that grind our bald eagles to dust. Or, solar farms that bake the rest of our birds and serve as mega heat islands in already hot desert climates.

Green energy was a really cool idea in the 70s when I was a kid - it's still a really cool idea but no one has figured out how to make it work without collateral damage to our already fragile environment. Kind of like food 'science' - we're not even close.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
The radiation leaking from Fukishima is essentially harmless. Most of the fear of nuclear power is the result of liberal lies.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment

You are slippin' a bit, Aunt Holly. Love Canal was a toxic waste dump. I'm not aware that there was anything radioactive at the site. You must be thinking Three Mile Island.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama's Coal Catch-22: you can build a coal plant, but you will go bankrupt doing it.

BUT you can build it with technology which may or may not be developed in the future to the point of effectiveness, and may or may not be cost-effective when available.

HOWEVER the perfection of the new technology, if possible at all, cannot proceed without a market of new coal plants. Back to square one.

It's a scheme to hide the War on Coal.

What they NEVER mention is that even if they eliminated American coal-generated power, and lowered our carbon output proportionately, it would not make any significant difference in "climate change" over the next 50-100 years unless China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Egypt, and other developing companies did something similar. Which they won't.

So even if it works, it won't work.

Brilliant!
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
One assumes that you DO dicker about such things. Certainly if you export your coal to countries that don't have the same regulations you do, you are DEFINITELY undercutting the whole process. I check my self off for supporting reasonable regulation and a generally increasing tax or mitigation cost for coal and all carbon products. I'll make a wild guess that the coin of the realm around here is that all government regulation is toxic and should be scrubbed so that producers can have the lowest cost possible and give us the same. Is the philosophy that if you get it out and burn it as cheaply and as fast as you can, that said "efficiency" will come the closest to curing all our cares and woes?
If I were king I would have a progressively higher carbon tax and engage in a massive infrastructure project to move water around the country and if I had to use nuclear to do it, I would definitely explore that possibility.
The easy thing to do is to show how the other side contains scamps, hypocrites, villains, and mercenary traitors, because of course it always does. That said, in the words of the Scriptures, "what then must we do?"
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Carbon dioxide is an essential nutrient for life on the planet and has, for all practical purposes, absolutely no effect on planetary temperatures (water vapor is the big kahuna of greenhouse gases). In other words, there is zero justification for mandating any kind of "greenhouse gas" regulation on any industry.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Eugenics failed, abortion has been only partially successful (wiping out Caucasaians), converting corn to energy in order to starve the masses. All plans to reduce the world population and return it to the animals. What now frustrates them is the increase of CO2 is creating a boom in argiculture that is actually feeding more people then they hoped for. We must raise energy costs to keep the masses in place. So, the EPA will now ban 80% of wood stoves. So, raise energy costs, freeze people to death, starve them by capturing all the co2. And if none of the above works, at least we will have enriched those in power by supporting their hairbrained ideas with taxpayer money. The middle class has dropped by 11% the last 5 years. Median wages have dropped. Energy costs and food have soared. What could go wrong?
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dang, frgough, you're supposed to call it "oxidized hydrogen" so it sounds scary. Water vapor is so benign-sounding.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
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