More and more utilities are rushing to substitute gas-fired combustion turbines for coal in their resource plans while rapidly expanding their use of renewables and efficiency. But are the assumptions behind this change correct? The new rush to gas is raising serious questions about domestic and international supply, price and price volatility, and lifecycle carbon emissions. This edition of The Transformer addresses those questions and considers the controversy surrounding liquefied natural gas.
Issues: Coal in the Northwest
The Northwest is blessed with bountiful energy efficiency and renewable resources – enough to meet all projected increases in electricity needs several times over. Despite this, coal plants are being proposed across the Northwest. In this section you’ll find information and the newest updates on this issue.
Official NW Energy Coalition comments on a proposed air-quality agreement between Washington state and Centralia, Wash., coal plant owner TransAlta reflect a significant weakening of mercury emissions requirements from those adopted in 11 other states and previously considered by Washington state officials.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, the region’s official power planning agency, is currently seeking public comment on its draft 6th Northwest Power and Conservation Plan, which assesses the region’s long-term electricity needs and identifies power sources to meet them with.
Another one bites the dust
Clean energy activists combine efforts to defeat dirty coal plant
Four years of multi-pronged efforts by clean energy activists throughout the West have resulted in the official death of a proposed dirty coal plant in Utah known as IPP3. Legislative, regulatory and electoral campaigns were waged and won in at least six states to secure the victory.
An IGCC or “clean coal” plant actually combines three distinct technologies – a gasifier, a combustion turbine and a steam turbine. In the first phase, gasification, coal is heated to produce a gas. In phase two the gas turns a turbine (similar to a high-powered airplane engine) to make electricity. In phase three the excess heat from the turbine is captured and used to boil water to make steam, which is then used to make electricity. [PDF]
Victory for clean energy activists:
Proposed Kalama coal plant off the table
After years of trying to sell its massively polluting proposed coal-powered plant as a clean power solution, Energy Northwest has finally thrown in the towel on the Pacific Mountain Energy Center (PMEC), the proposed 793-megawatt coal-powered facility in Kalama, Wash.
Wind power costs on the rise?
Not nearly as much as coal, gas and nukes
We keep hearing how the costs of new renewable power – especially wind power – are going up. Fact is, the cost of wind power is rising far less than costs for coal, natural gas or nuclear power.