Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger checks statistics Friday while testifying in Denver before the Public Utilities Commission, which is conducting hearings about potential impacts of new state energy legislation.

Photo by Mike Lawrence

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger checks statistics Friday while testifying in Denver before the Public Utilities Commission, which is conducting hearings about potential impacts of new state energy legislation.

Monger promotes coal industry impacts to state utilities commission

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— The future of Twentymile Coal Co., Routt County’s top taxpayer, briefly took center stage Friday in a windowless room in downtown Denver, where state electricity officials discussed how to balance clean-air requirements with the economic foundation and power generation of coal.

Routt County Commissioner Do­­­ug Monger left Routt County before the sun rose and sat in that room for several hours, waiting to testify before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. The PUC held hearings last week to weigh potential benefits and impacts of Xcel Energy’s plan to implement House Bill 1365, the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act adopted this year by the state Legislature and Gov. Bill Ritter.

The legislation sets emission-reduction standards to be met by 2017 and would, among other actions, convert or shut down some coal-fired Front Range power plants in favor of natural gas.

Monger said that conversion could cut the market for Twentymile coal in half. The West Routt County mine produced about 7.8 million tons of coal in 2009, about 4 million tons of which went to Xcel power plants on the Front Range, he said.

Monger told the PUC’s three members that the coal-mining industry brings about $14 million in annual property taxes to Routt County. Those dollars help fund school districts, fire districts and other governmental entities.

“Twentymile Coal is the No. 1 taxpayer in all of Routt County, by a sizable amount,” Monger said.

He added that the coal industry provides about 500 jobs in Routt County and about 400 in Moffat County.

But one of Northwest Colo­rado’s oldest economic pillars faces serious challenges.

“There’s a target on our back, for sure,” Monger said.

Environmental groups such as the Colorado Environmental Coalition strongly are supporting the reduction of coal-fired power. Some members of the industry itself are acknowledging a downward trend — Terry Ross, western region vice president for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said the country is facing “9 to 18 percent less electricity generation coming from coal by 2035.”

Despite Ross’ presence Fri­day, Monger said clean coal largely has been spurned in Colorado’s clean-air debates.

“Nothing, not anywhere in House Bill 1365 … was there any discussion of retrofitting these plants into clean coal technology, which through the plan can achieve the same amount of compliance,” Monger said.

The PUC’s discussions Fri­day included whether Colorado mines, including Twentymile, could replace a decreased coal market on the Front Range by selling to other markets, even overseas, where booming economies in China and India are making those countries net importers of coal.

Ross countered that Colo­rado’s location, far from ports for shipping overseas, puts the state at a distinct disadvantage for reaching faraway markets.

PUC member Matt Baker asked Monger what impact the oil and natural gas industries have on Routt County jobs.

“Very little,” Monger said, before emphasizing that, in his opinion, a transition from coal to natural gas would have a negative impact on employment. “We firmly believe that we’re sacrificing long-term mining jobs for short-term drilling jobs and short-term construction jobs.”

The PUC has until the end of the year to approve an Xcel Energy plan for implementation of House Bill 1365.

“Once the plan is adopted, then Xcel will move forward toward implementing,” said state Sen. Al White, a Hayden Republican.

In April, White said the legislation could cost as many as 200 jobs at Twentymile.

Comments

beentheredonethat 3 years, 5 months ago

the routt county commissioners are doing what they are suppose to be doing, represent their current businesses / constituents, as best they can. I submit that they could also make a huge leap and begin to include future generations of businesses / constituents, by discussing how best to entice renewable energy companies to locate to routt county. it is a fact that coal generated power, as the biggest source of pollution, will be phased out. better to find a replacement as soon as possible or the future of routt county could be bleak indeed.

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beentheredonethat 3 years, 5 months ago

the routt county commissioners are doing what they are suppose to be doing, represent their current businesses / constituents, as best they can. I submit that they could also make a huge leap and begin to include future generations of businesses / constituents, by discussing how best to entice renewable energy companies to locate to routt county. it is a fact that coal generated power, as the biggest source of pollution, will be phased out. better to find a replacement as soon as possible or the future of routt county could be bleak indeed.

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Fred Duckels 3 years, 5 months ago

One problem here is that much of the "scientific" data comes from questionable research by universities and academia milking the taxpayers with the latest scare tactic. Of late this crowd seems to have crawled into a hole, but many are left to administer their agenda. There are too many holes in the "consensus" theories to spend trillions that we do not have, we need bang for the buck. Utility suppliers are like many big entities, they take the path of least resistance. I'm all for doing good, but betting the farm on agenda driven science or because it is the "right thing"is for newcomers.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

It is often said that we have high energy low sulfur coal. So why isn't our coal highly desired to replace lower energy and higher sulfur coal? It appears our superior coal is not superior in the market place.

It would seem to be an obvious choice for other coal power plants to use our coal to instantly lower their emissions. Are the emissions systems on coal power plants good enough that it doesn't matter what coal they are burning? Or do other coal power plants not care about their emissions as long as they are below legal limits?

Fred, The science of global climate change is pretty solid. Simplest argument is that it is not that hard to calculate that an atmosphere without any greenhouse gases would result in an earth with an average temp of -40C. So there is no dispute that greenhouse gases warm the planet. The only dispute is how much of a climate change results from how much more greenhouse gas.

The valid question is whether Colorado emitting less will make any difference when China is building a plant a day. Though, the idea of a tariff on imports based upon the exporting country's greenhouse gas emissions is lurking as something that could be supported by a wide coalition. And will probably be passed in Europe in a few years especially if China keeps increasing their emissions. So then it could directly help Colorado by emitting less.

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housepoor 3 years, 5 months ago

I think Fred was kidding LOL, even good ole boy GW and his dad think there might be something to this global warming thing.......

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sledneck 3 years, 5 months ago

For most of human history everyone who had ever lived and everyone alive on earth has KNOWN... not thought but KNOWN... that the earth is flat. That was "settled science".

In the 1970's we were told there was an ice age comming.

And I needn't remind you, House, that GW is an idiot! Now that it serves your desires you are agreeing with a known idiot, GW Bush?

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Scott Ford 3 years, 5 months ago

I would like to reel this discussion back to the discussion of NW Colorado Coal because I think it useful. I can only hope I am successful.

It is helpful if we remember that utility companies buy nothing more than BTUs. They know very clearly how many BTUs they need to generate a KWH of power at any specific facility. A lot of this has to do with the efficiency of the power conversion equipment at the facility. My understanding of the natural gas (NG) technology Excel is thinking of installing in a few of their aging plants in the Front Range are direct drive NG turbines. This simply means that there is no need to use the BTUs to heat water and produce steam. Natural gas direct drive turbines are essentially a very big jet engine connected directly to a drive shaft that turns the generator. The are more efficient at converting BTUs to KWHs than heating up a lot of water and then using steam to drive a turbine. Its physics not politics.

One of the big advantages of NG direct drive turbines is that it is very demand responsive. In low demand periods, it is quickly throttled down - in high demand periods it is quickly throttled up. Steam driven generators are not as easy to throttle; it takes a whole lot of energy to keep a whole bunch of water at super heated temperatures even if the generator is not turning.

My guess is that Excel was going to be converting their older plants to NG regardless. Since they are the only major game in town when it comes to making electric power, they are regulated by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) in the hopes that they play fair with their customers. As a private business, they have been smart enough to use the PUC to help them more easily pass the cost of the conversions to NG to the consumer. This is a classic example how private industry can use the legislative and regulatory process to their advantage. I do not think even Mr. Duckles would blame them for doing this.

So who is the bad guy here? Hard saying? However, if we spin the dial I think it points pretty clearly at Excel. Nevertheless, Excel has few choices. Some of their power generating facilities in the Denver Metro area is well beyond their useful operating life. Rebuild them as highly efficient "clean burning" coal fired power plants? That has always been a possibility. However, this does not take into account demand flexibility NG has. Also NG is cheaper to transport - and without a whole bunch of extra work burns a wee-bit cleaner than coal which takes more technology to make it burn as clean. However it is possible to make coal burn as clean as NG it is more expensive. The key questions becomes who pays? Obviously us and how much are we willing to pay?

In the end, how much does a BTU cost the utility company and how much they can sell a KWH for? If we get too far for this basic economic question, we lose sight of what is happening.

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trump_suit 3 years, 5 months ago

Pay attention to the real numbers and Global Warming is a very real thing. The questions are:

How much is attributable to mankind? CO2 Emissions? Methane from farm animals?

Those are the questions that don't have solid answers and Sled is absolutely correct about scientists being wrong. We should be doing the research to get off of the fossil fuel train, but at what cost? The brutal answer is that nothing we know about today can replace our demands for oil/gas/coal.

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Fred Duckels 3 years, 5 months ago

Scott, Cold give me an explanation of why we had the medieval warming period that seems to have been neglected by your elite pals. Why has the propaganda suddenly dried up? It seems to have gone the way of topsoil depletion, acid rain, ozone problems and other ways for universities to maintain. I understand the next rage will be biodiversity to keep the coffers full. I don't know if the current warming scare is true or not but I do know that there is a sucker born every minute.

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Scott Ford 3 years, 5 months ago

Hi Fred - In the in the blog world of the Pilot attention to details are important. Since there are two Scott(s) involved in this exchange, it is useful if you refer to us as either Scott W or Scott F. I believe your question is directed to Scott W.

Personally, I can only hope we get the exchange back on NW Coal which was the focus of the article. I am keeping my fingers crossed this can happen. I do not think you or anybody else in this exchange is going to shed any new information about GW that has not already been said thousands and thousands of times before.

I think there is a lot about the coal situation in NW Colorado that is useful and results in an informative discussion. I would welcome your thoughts about NW Coal.

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Queenie 3 years, 5 months ago

ScottW: re: "It appears......" and "It would seem obvious..." I am not trying to be nasty, but I hope you do more research before you vote tomorrow than you do for your opinion on NW CO coal. Head on out to Twentymile Coal Co. Take a tour. Ask about why NWCO coal is "cleaner" and what that means. The boys out there will be glad to tell you.

ScottF: THANK YOU FOR AN INFORMED OPINION!

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Fred Duckels 3 years, 5 months ago

Scott, If not for the big debate we would not be turning our backs on coal, our ace in the hole. We may be wasting money that we do not have on politically popular alternates.I think that my comments are very relevant.

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Scott Ford 3 years, 5 months ago

Hey Fred -

Your point is well taken and I appreciate your perspective. Our electrical energy needs locally and as a nation are not going backwards. We will find more and more ways to use electrons in all their various forms. Even with the best of conservation efforts demand for electricity will increase.

Coal is going to be around for a long time. We will likely get a wee-bit more efficient at mining it, transporting it, and burning it. Will it be the primary source of base power generation 50 to 100 years from now? I do not know. What I do know is that you and I not going to live that long. I do not think our "number" is up next week - but our number will come up someday in the next 50 years whether the planet is warmer, colder or about the same.

I am smart enough to know that we likely have not seen anything yet when it comes to finding ways to generate power. I think we both can agree we want innovation to occur in this area. To put it simply in market driven economies innovation often results in lower cost.

How to encourage innovation? There are many different ways. Some ways work sometimes and other times they do not work at all. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Perhaps a silly example would be useful illustrate my point. Let's say somehow someday a very specialized (innovative) drill was developed that could insert a pipe deep into the earth's crust using metal alloy that does not even exist today. Wow all sorts of heat that makes water super hot without having to burn coal. We all know that we do not have that technology to pull this off today. With support of innovation, we might encourage something something to happen.

It is sufficient for any of us to recognize that coal is how we heat water to turn turbines that drive generators that result in electrons we can use. Will we always do it this way and is it the most efficient way? Today it is - will that always be? Again, who knows?

All I know for sure is that we will need energy - I am neutral as to the source of that energy. I am sensitive to its cost both the direct and indirect expense. I think the smart move is not to preclude any options but rationally weigh the cost and not be emotionally attached to any specific option or energy source. There is great value to being open mined in this area regardless if one thinks the planet is getting warmer, colder or staying about the same.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

I am not disputing that NW Colorado coal is cleaner. My question, honest question to which I have not found the answer, is why then are they not finding other coal fired plants jumping at the opportunity to use NW Colorado instead of continuing to use lesser coal? Twentymile is already running at less than full capacity so they are looking for more customers, but have not been able to sign up more customers.

Scott F. You nearly got the importance of Excel NG responsive power plants. The critical importance of NG turbine power plants is that wind and solar are variable depending upon the weather so the NG turbine is very useful at being able to adjust electrical production to demand even as production from renewables varies during the day. So the NG turbines allow Excel to use wind and solar while keeping a stable power system.

Fred, Ozone depletion was not a false scare. It was just that the world banned ozone eating gases. We have observed an increase in UV reaching the earth's surface and we have also seen some reduction in the levels of upper atmosphere CFC. Getting rid of upper atmosphere CFCs is a slow process, but it is headed in the right direction at a pace reasonably close to projections.

Acid was also a real issue that was addressed by the Acid Rain Program, a cap and trade system on sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides passed in 1990 (Bush Sr) which has reduced reduced US emissions by 40% while Europe used regulations limiting production to cut emissions by 70%. So we don't hear about it because it is being addressed. Just like we don't hear about DDT wiping out bird species any more.

The science of global warming has not gone away. Scientifically, research on global climate change is continuing and those seeing the validity of the theory are not fading away. It is easy enough to search various topics and get explanations as detailed as you want via following the citations. There is nothing like the Ultraviolet Catastrophe were observed values are the direct opposite of theoretical values which signaled the end of Newtonian physics for the infinitesimal and validated Planck's Law which then quickly led to Quantum Physics.

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Scott Ford 3 years, 5 months ago

What does coal mean to NW Colorado? Surely it means something beyond railcars of hyperbole and heartfelt emotions. I believe that with a wee-bit of effort the staff at the newspaper could help put this question into perspective for their readers including the public officials. Let's see what we know.

There are 10 producing coalmines in Colorado. Of those mines, 2 are surface, 7 are underground, and one is a combination. In NW Colorado 2 mines, (Twentymile [Routt County] and Deserado [Rio Blanco] are underground mines. In Moffat County Trapper is a surface mine and ColWyo is a combination.

All the coalmines in Colorado produce between 30 and 40 million tons annually. The four coalmines in NW Colorado represent about 50 to 60% of state's production. Twentymile operated by Peabody's Energy located in Routt County typically accounts for about 25%+ of the state's total production.

Twentymile employs about 475 individuals. Of these employees about 50%, call Routt County home and about 50% call Moffat County home. (This is a guess.)

In Routt County, private sector employment (non-government) results in about $60 million in personal income. The mining sector (which includes all resource extraction coal and natural gas) in Routt County accounts for about 7% of total private sector income in the county. Private sector employment in Routt County is about 18,000. This 18,000 includes both business establishments with and without employees. (There is a significant self-employment presence in Routt County.) Employment in the mining sector represents about 3.5% of the jobs in Routt County.

It is easy to do the rough math to see that jobs in the mining sector pay about 2X the median annual wage in Routt County of $41,600. These are important jobs. How much would a reduction of 10% or maybe 20% in coal production from Twentymile represent in Routt County employment and income? That is the story I would love the Pilot/Today to do. As the resident "numbers" guy I am ready to help. Let's do this I think it is a puzzle we can easily put together.

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doug monger 3 years, 5 months ago

Scott W. The reason why NW Colo coal will not have a market is two fold. 1) The biggest issue is the cost of transportation out of our beautiful valley and to the markets that might desire our superior coal. In the past electric producers (my understanding) have been able to mix our superior coal with other inferior coals and meet or more appropriately meet air quaility regulations. There comes the second part of the dilemna, to continue to burn coal to provide electricity through new EPA rules all of the plants in time will have to move to the next generation of emission controls. Moving to that next level of emission controls (again my understanding) allows the producer to burn exclusively lower quality and subtantially lower cost fuel. We all know that the NW Colo coal has no way of competing cost wise with WYO Pouder River Basin coal.

I totally agree with Scott F. in that the whole purpose in this bill was that it met several objectives from different perspectives and interest groups.

From the Governor's perspective he desires to go down in history as the King of Renewable Electricity. While I totally support renewable electricity, that interaction with Coal fired plants does not work so well, as for every KWH of power of Renewable generated a duplicate source of power KWH per KWH has to be a back up. That backup has to have the ability to easily and cost effectively ramp up and ramp down (Naturaly Gas). Coal plants do not have that ability.

On Public Service's perspective they are saddled with coal fired power plants that came on line in the 1950's the plants will require additional emmission controls to be in compliance with the Clean Air Act, but after that is all said and done, the refurbished plant will still be a power plant that came on line in the 50's. What better for PSCO than decommission the plants go to more reactive NEW gas plants and have you and me the consumers pay for that in up front rate recovery.

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doug monger 3 years, 5 months ago

For the Gas producers, they have been their own worst enemy, they became over effecient at drilling and production. They have found new gas supplies and have glutted the market with their commodity. So in the "short" run there is over supply with a stable demand. Makes sense- cut a sweet deal with PSCO to "clean up our environment" while providing new construction jobs during our down economy. The problem with that is even with potential long term contracts for fuel, the consumers will be at the mercy of the gas market, I believe the US went down that road before. It is never good to put all of ones eggs in one basket.

For the Environmentalist there is no such thing as a clean coal fired power plant, even though current cost effective technology allows for coal plants to meet all of the current and "Reasonable Foreseable" emission requirements. We again have to understand that coal plants can not ramp up and or ramp down, but given that it will take the renewable industry years to get to a 20% market share, that requires a 20% backup of Gas power. That means that a continued need of the 80% market should be for the BEST option. That includes appropriate emmission measures with the lowest costs to the end consumers.

Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado continues to believe that Coal can and should be that low cost environmentally friendly fuel sourse.

ps. just so everyone knows the EPA through the Clean Air Act is continuing to monitor the Natural Gas industry to more appropriately understand and get ready to regulate gas through the "Whole Life Cycle" concept, and that environmental issues cannot only be measured at the smoke stack.

Doug Monger Routt County Commissioner

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

Scott F. Regarding electricity consumption - it is easy to neglect the amount saved by efficiency.

About 10 years when Google started getting big fast, they quickly noticed they were spending far more on electricity than on computers. That Intel in their race for speed were producing CPUs that were equally effective as space heaters. So Google switched to AMD whom were producing more energy efficient CPUs. Intel then basically junked their entire server processor roadmap and took the Core Duo design which started off as only for low power laptops and used that as the basis of their server CPUs. That just about halved CPU power requirements while CPUs got about 10 times more powerful.

Nowadays, companies rotate their computing tasks to their server farm with the lowest cost electricity at that moment and cooler outside temps to control their electricity costs. And the latest graphics cards are such good number crunchers with many processing pipelines that they probably sell more to server farms to assist their number crunching than are being used in people's computers to display graphics.

Already, a whole lot is being saved by compact fluorescent bulbs. Most commuting can be done in far more efficient electric cars (and the grid has enough excess capacity overnight to easily handle charging electric cars).

People love their cell phones, but those use very little power. Flat screen TVs started off using tons of electricity, but after California passed energy efficiency requirements we are now seeing efficient TVs.

It takes far more energy to live a modern life than to be a peasant farmer. But it has been shown that cities, states and even countries can improve the quality of modern life and use less energy. Energy expenditures as percentage of GDP peaked 30 years ago and is now comparable to prior 73-74 (the oil embargo). Thus, we are spending now as much for energy as a percentage of GDP as when there was cheap oil. And we can probably reduce our energy consumption by another 10-20% without noticing any impacts. That does not mean Fred's construction equipment sits an extra hour per day, but that other energy savings are enough to compensate for those things which it is hard to use less energy.

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Scott Ford 3 years, 5 months ago

Scott W - I believe we can be confident that in the 7 to 10 years it will take to full convert the 3 to 4 power plants that currently use some of Twentymile's coal, they will likely find other customers. It is also possible that of the 10 coalmines in Colorado during this period that some of the marginally productive mines will stop operating.

NW Colorado coal is a quality product and there will likely be demand. Our most direct competitor in the rocky mountain region coal market is from the surface mines in Wyoming in an area known as the Powder River Basin. The coal seams in the Powder River basin are 60 to 100 feet thick. More importantly the overburden (the stuff on top of the coal is between 50 and 170 feet). These two factors combined make it cheaper to mine on a per ton basis. The coal mines in NW Colorado are a part of an area call the Uinta Basin. To put this in perspective the coal seams that most of the mining in NW Colorado is taking place in are between 8 and 12 feet thick.

On a cost per ton to mine basis the mines in the Powder River Basin eat our lunch. However, it is not great coal. If the coal from this area was of equal quality to NW Colorado we would have been out of the exporting coal business by the mid 1980's for sure.

Powder River Basin coal is only about 8,000 BTUs per pound and it has more sulfur and ash (stuff that does not burn). Therefore, NW Colorado coal is a better product but it also cost more to mine. Transportation cost also becomes a factor for NW Colorado mines. It likely is a wee-bit more expensive transport coal out of NW Colorado. Powder River basin coal has better rail access to major markets in the mid-west.

It is my understanding that utility coal contracts are won or lost on a few cents per ton, which includes mining cost, transportation, ash content, and BTU value of the coal. I know that this is a bit harsh but if the McClane Canyon mine in Garfield County stop production Twentymile could easily fill the gap. This would represent over 1/2 of any projected loss in production due to the proposed conversion to natural gas of some of the metro area plants.

As we all can appreciate, there is a host of competitive variables. Peabody Energy, owners of Twentymile are going to be working very hard on the problem of finding replacement markets for their coal. I am confident that they will - but that does not mean it is going to be easy.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

Doug, Thank you for the excellent information. I have doubts about one (and only one) thing you said and a question.

I think your assertion that there has to be 100% backup for renewables has room to be questioned. First, peak capacity is needed to handle peak load, not daily usage. Peak load occurs during very hot days which likely results in peak solar and often peak wind in the windy areas where the wind turbines are located. That sort of analysis is done by the power producers and they know they don't need 100% backup. At least PGE in California doesn't need 100% and, in fact, providing peak power is the most profitable power and a major justification for wind and solar electricity production.

As for coal mixtures and Twentymile coal, does the next generation of coal plants have the sort of emissions controls that they don't care what kind of coal being used? Or is there some sort of loophole saying that if they install new emissions systems then that is enough even though using NW Colorado coal would reduce emissions even further? If the situation is the latter then we should fight for more results based regulations so that NW Colorado coal is still desirable to further reduce emissions. If the situation is the former then there are no competitive advantages to our superior coal.

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Scott Ford 3 years, 5 months ago

I am enjoying the informative discussion about coal that is now taking place in this blog. This is an important topic for all of us in NW Colorado.

I knew it was possible. Yea! Thanks everybody.

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doug monger 3 years, 5 months ago

Scott W. I am positively not an expert on this matter, in fact I already know more than I ever wanted to know, My comment regarding having backup for renewable comes from my sence that current public policy is pushing for those sources to be always running whenever they can. IE wind blowing, sun shining. At that I believe the policy direction is to change the driving force for the grid. We no longer will be running for the cheapest most reliable form of electricty, rather we are moving to run the grid to achieve the most environmental friendly electricity. If that is the case, we will need the replication when the sun doesn't shine or the wind isn't blowing to make up that part of base load. So again, I think the direction is to move toward base power will be preferably provided by renewable, which will have to have duplication in case the renewable isn't producing. In this new grid, having a second set of generation and fuel (hopefully coal) to provide that other part of the base load will be needed. Lastly having as you discussed the peak load ability which will always be Natural Gas.

On your second question, in the little amount of time I was in the PUC hearing listenting to other testimony by parties, all coal will have to go through substantial emission measures. Those measures will take care of issues no matter the quality of the coal. So inferior coal will have to come up with to the same emission smokestack standard as our superior coal, and the added cost to clean inferior coal probably will be less than the cost difference in quality especially if you factor in transportation.

Doug Monger

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

Doug, Renewables will be a large part of the daily production and have the advantage that their power generation varies during the day tends to mirror the daily loads on the system.

Sure their are days the sun don't shine or the wind doesn't blow, but that is also likely to be a lower energy demand day.

Also, it is more economical to handle the exceptional peak loads by having agreements with major users that can be cut off instead of building generation capacity that is needed only a few days a year. So those major users work around losing most all of their power for a few hours a few days a year to get a better rate. So we are not really expecting to build an power system with 20% renewables with a backup power system able to also generate that 20% if the sun doesn't shine or the wind isn't blowing. The bigger issue with renewables appears to be their power production can vary within minutes so the utility needs something that can ramp up and down to compensate.

I also just remembered being told that Twentymile had been doing well selling to plants that were able to produce more electricity using the higher BTU coal than their normal cheap coal. But with the recession and the decrease in electricity usage then those plants no longer were getting the kwh pricing to justify burning our coal. So Twentymile also needs an economic recovery so there are power plants looking to maximize their power even if that increases their costs.

BTW, I think your online name shows the limitations of the Pilot's system of registered with them, but anonymous online. Could Doug Monger have really posted something anonymous without thinking that Pilot would link his name to the revelation and thus had an article written say "Doug Monger says ..."?

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