This spring I have had an opportunity to talk to a number of captains of utilities, public power agencies and coops.
They have a nagging concern about lip service done to an “all of the above” strategy on energy.
It basically is this. Utilities have a long history of going all in on one chosen technology until big problems emerge that force them to change course. I had lunch this week with the former head of a major Midwest utility and he said utilities are marching lemming-like toward natural gas generation – and a possible cliff.
Now that coal seems dead, he expects environmentalists will bag their victory and turn their attacks towards natural gas.
But coal is not dead. And that is good news for America, which is said to have a 250-year supply of the stuff.
Read closely the fine print of Environmental Protection Agency emission standards, which require many coal generation units to cut in half their current emissions to get to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, the Wall Street Journal in April reported.
That is well below the 90 percent carbon capture the Department of Energy has been aiming for in its front-burner research efforts.
“That changes the economics” of keeping coal generation viable while tackling climate change, one researcher told the Journal.
If so, don’t count the black stuff out for long.