Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Coal-powered projects snuffed in WYO

Casper Star-Tribune energy reporter Dustin Bleizeffer reports this in today’s issue:

Two coal-based power projects planned for southwest Wyoming have been snuffed due to an uncertain political climate regarding greenhouse gases. PacifiCorp, which operates as Rocky Mountain Power in Wyoming, said it has pulled all coal-based power generation from its plan to meet increasing load demand within the six Western states it serves. The action scraps a planned 527-megawatt, "super-critical" pulverized coal unit at the Jim Bridger power plant in Sweetwater County. It also scraps a coal-gasification, carbon capture and sequestration demonstration project in partnership with the state of Wyoming at Jim Bridger, according to Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Dave Eskelsen.

"The situation the company finds itself in now is a significant amount of uncertainty about what climate change regulation might do to the cost of coal plants," Eskelsen said Monday. "Coal projects are no longer viable."California, Oregon, Washington and other states across the nation are forcing utilities to consider the additional cost of curbing carbon dioxide emissions in proposed coal-based generation, due to increasing pressure to address climate change. The world's top scientists say human-caused CO2 is almost certainly a key factor in global warming.

This is good news for all of us, including Wyomingites. Republicans will blather on about this, I’m sure, but global warming affects Rock Springs as much as Palm Springs or Warm Springs or any other similarly-named place on the planet. Cancelling (or at least postponing) coal-fired plants is a good thing. In the meantime, we can invest more in solar and wind energy, as well as biofuels.
But the CST story gets more intriguing further down the page:

The outside pressures against coal-fired generation are in complete contrast with the treatment conventional coal projects have received from Freudenthal's administration and Wyoming regulators. At least three new coal-fired power plant projects have been approved in Wyoming in recent years, with no carbon capture or sequestration requirements. All three plants are planned for construction in Campbell County over the next three years. Among them is Basin Electric Power
Cooperative's 385-megawatt Dry Fork Station.

As a Democrat, this distresses me. Many pressures are brought to bear on a Dem governor in our fair state, but Freudenthal shouldn’t be so quick to approve these coal-fired monsters. While he’s talked about global warming and attended some of the regional/national conclaves about renewable energy, Freudenthal needs to take the same kind of proactive stance shown by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. Less coal, more renewable sources of energy. Gov. Freudenthal also needs to put some money into play.

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