Coal To Gas Moves Are Generating Economic Waves
By Ken Silverstein
Shifting from coal to gas hasn’t triggered the financial tailspin about which many utilities had warned. But it has created an economic wave, which is fostering the next-generation of energy jobs while also helping to clear the air.
All utilities that own and operate coal-fired fleets must decide whether to retire or to retrofit their aging plants, many of which were built in the 1950s. Multiple federal regulations are now in the pipeline and involve mercury, coal ash and greenhouse gases. That will result in the closing of a cadre of coal plants and the construction of numerous combined-cycle natural gas facilities.
“Our analysis shows that switching to cleaner energy sources and investing in energy efficiency often makes more economic sense than spending billions to extend the life of obsolete coal plants,” says Steve Frenkel, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists‘ Midwest office. “Regulators should require utility companies to carefully consider whether ratepayers would be better off by retiring old coal plants and boosting electricity generation from natural gas and renewable energy sources like wind.”
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