Plans for a new Colorado energy economy
Plans by Xcel Energy to remake the electricity-generation industry in and around Pueblo, Colo., are being seen as a harbinger of a new energy economy. The company is seeking to close two of three coal-fired power plants in Pueblo and replace them with wind and solar facilities, a change that would create a net total of more than 50 jobs. The county, which has a population of about 165,000 and is strategically situated near major power transmission lines, is “poised to become the renewable energy hub for Colorado and likely the region,” said its director of economic development.
Op-ed: Why clean energy jobs ‘continue to pop up’
A former mayor and city council member who now leads a nonpartisan national group that champions market-based economic-transition solutions, endorses a proposed solar farm in Mendon Township, Mich. The $29 million, 150-acre project would generate more than $20,000 in monthly local tax revenue over 23 years. “Renewable energy developments provide significant benefits to local communities. That’s why jobs in the clean energy industry and new solar developments continue to pop up across the state.”
Large new philanthropic fund responds to coal country transitions
Nonprofit Quarterly profiles the work of the Just Transition Fund and the diverse set of strategies in which it is investing.
Report: A proper Colstrip cleanup would create new jobs
Community activists in Colstrip, Mont., are urging the corporate owner of Colstrip Power Plant to invest in the excavation and removal of its coal-ash ponds once two of the plant’s three electricity-generating units shut down in 2022. A report by the Northern Plains Resource Council concludes that such a reclamation initiative would help sustain the town’s declining economy. “Doing a thorough cleanup now will employ more people, make the land more attractive to businesses and industries looking to come to Colstrip and potentially will keep taxpayers from footing the bill.”
Kentucky Power sells $17.6 million in excess coal stockpiles
Kentucky Power’s Mitchell plant, which produces power for 168,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties, has sold $17.6 million in coal that it had stockpiled but will not burn because cheaper electricity can be produced from natural gas and renewables. The news is reflective of a downturn in eastern Kentucky’s coal industry, which employed 14,000 people in 2011 but fewer than 4,000 during the first three months of this year. “The sale comes amid a changing energy landscape in the country. In 1990, coal-fired power plants generated about 52 percent of the electricity in the country … by the end of 2017, coal’s share of national electricity generation had dropped to 30 percent.”
Coal Plant Closure in Kansas
Westar Energy will close the coal-fired Tecumseh Energy Center near Topeka on Oct. 1, several years ahead of schedule. The company said it will also shut down fossil-fuel-powered units at electricity plants in Colwich and Wichita as part of its merger with Great Plains Energy, the owner of Kansas City Power & Lighter. A Westar spokesperson said the merger, “along with the addition of renewable energy,” allows for the shutdowns, which won’t affect service.
Commentary: Navajo Generating Station remains economically unviable
Keeping the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona would come at a high cost. “Market conditions suggest an economic disaster any way you cut it, and one that that would cause pain for workers, miners, and other members of the Navajo Nation,” writes the author. “There are sensible ways to invest in a region in need of federal attention on many levels. This is not one of them.”
Editorial: ‘No reason to bail out coal industry’
A Texas newspaper is questioning former Energy Secretary Rick Perry—a former Texas governor—on a proposed federal program to save failing coal-fired power plants. “It’s bad economics and bad environmental policy. Perry should remember what he championed as governor. That would mean endorsing energy policies in the interest of American consumers and enterprise, not select industries.”
Commentary: Georgia is at a solar policy crossroads
Georgia, ranked 10th nationally in solar energy production, is at a policy crossroads as the industry makes rapid gains across the state. Activity includes a manufacturing facility in Dalton, a solar-powered Facebook data center in Newton, and new solar-farm approvals “every other week.” Growth calls for informed land-use codes and pushback against misinformation campaigns. “Georgians can demand smart solar siting: growing the industry, boosting local economies, and still protecting what makes the state special,” write the authors.
Study depicts Central Appalachian reclamation possibilities
Researchers at Duke University have published a visually-rich study showing how surface mining has spread over the years in Central Appalachia, leaving behind a deeply-scarred 32,000-square-mile landscape across Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia. The study notes the growing difficulties facing coal companies as coal seams are tapped out and as they have to move three times as much earth as they did 30 years ago to produce a ton of coal. The researchers want to make their findings available to local and state governments to help identify sites that qualify for federal reclamation money, including through the Abandoned Mine Lands pilot program and the RECLAIM Act.