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Analysis Paralysis

Due, in part, to a winter that only begrudgingly and belatedly yielded to spring, this month’s EIA Short-term Energy Outlook now predicts higher coal production for the year than it predicted just last month: 751 million short tons, up from 740 MMST predicted in April.

In the debate over grid reliability and resiliency, assurances that today’s system works just fine should not be that reassuring considering anticipated coal plant retirements.  

Earlier this month, PJM hinted at the issue when it cautioned that “‘heavy reliance on one resource type’ raises potential resilience risks beyond existing reliability standards.” PJM head Andy Ott expanded, “Are we overdependent or increasingly dependent on one fuel infrastructure? ...We don't have a problem now. In fact, we're more diverse than we've ever been, but in some point in the future we may be overdependent on one pipeline.”

Indeed. Enter California.

Flashback to 2015, when a gas leak was discovered at Aliso Canyon – one of the largest gas storage facilities of its kind. More than two years later, with the leak plugged, the facility was reopened but operates with a lower limit on gas storage.

A report released last week underscores the consequences, “The SoCalGas system continues to operate at less than full capacity… (which) creates a moderate threat to electric reliability this summer. The more serious threat lies ahead. With so many pipeline outages, it will be difficult for SoCalGas to fill storage to a level sufficient to ensure energy reliability throughout the coming winter.”

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com. 

CoalZoom.com - Your Foremost Source for Coal News


Coal Allies Call on Trump Administration to Use Emergency Powers to Boost Business

Aging coal and nuclear power generators, facing increasingly stiff competition from natural gas and renewable energy, are calling on allies in the Trump administration to invoke the emergency powers to prop up their plants. 

But critics throughout much of the rest of the energy sector say saving these plants is not actually a national security imperative — and their pending closure is simply a consequence of good old marketplace competition.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry speaks during the Americas Society/Council of the Americas conference at the State Department last week.

Photo by Andrew Harrer, Bloomberg

One proposal involves dusting off a 68-year-old law enacted at the height of the Cold War. Energy Secretary Rick Perry told a House panel last week that he is "looking very closely" at using off the Defense Production Act of 1950 to revive coal and nuclear plants in the name of national security. The law, which President Harry Truman invoked with the steel industry shortly after the start of the Korean War, would give the government the power to effectively nationalize private industry to ensure it never faces a wartime shortfall of critical goods or services.

Another plan involves invoking emergency powers under the Federal Power Act to guarantee profits so that coal and nuclear plant can stay online. Earlier this year, the Ohio-based electric utility FirstEnergy filed an application with the Energy Department administration asking the government to bail out its nuclear and coal plants under that law, warning of a “power crisis" if the plants close.

But other energy interests usually aligned with the Trump administration — namely, the oil and natural gas producers — are pushing back against both ideas. Even one Republican senator appeared skeptical of using the Defense Production Act.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com. 

CoalZoom.com - Your Foremost Source for Coal News 


 Disruptions in Coal, Nuclear Power Industries Strain the Economy and Invite Brownouts

Is anyone paying any attention to the crisis that is going on in our electric power markets?

Over the past six months at least four major nuclear power plants have been slated for shutdown, including the last one in operation in California. Meanwhile, dozens of coal plants have been shuttered as well — despite low prices and cleaner coal. Some of our major coal companies may go into bankruptcy.

This is a dangerous game we are playing here with our most valuable resource — outside of clean air and water. Traditionally, we’ve received almost half our electric power nationwide from coal and nuclear power, and for good reason. They are cheap sources of power and they are highly resilient and reliable.

The disruption to coal and nuclear power wouldn’t be disturbing if this were happening as a result of market forces. That’s only partially the case.

The amazing shale oil and gas revolution is providing Americans with cheap gas for home heating and power generation. Hooray. The price of natural gas has fallen by nearly two-thirds over the last decade and this has put enormous price pressure on other forms of power generation.

But this is not a free-market story of Schumpeterian creative destruction. If it were, then wind and solar power would have been shutdown years ago. They can’t possibly compete on a level playing field with $3 natural gas.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com. 

CoalZoom.com - Your Foremost Source for Coal News 


The Trump Admin Debates the Best Way to Keep Coal Plants Open

As coal and nuclear plants across the country continue to falter, members of President Donald Trump’s administration are weighing solutions that can save jobs without wreaking havoc on the grid.

The U.S. energy industry is rapidly evolving. The implementation of fracking has skyrocketed the production of natural gas, making it cheaper and more efficient than other fossil fuels. The rise of natural gas, however, has been to the detriment of other energy sources — namely coal and nuclear power. Becoming less and less profitable, numerous coal and nuclear plants in recent years have either shut down or announced imminent closures. For example, FirstEnergy solutions will be closing several of its nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania. If a buyer isn’t located by the end of May, the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station will meet a similar fate.

Trump campaigned on promises to breath life back into the coal sector. As he continues on his ambitious deregulation agenda, many in the industry have appealed to him for help. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is considering the Defense Production Act in order to keep unprofitable plants running. The Cold War-era law was enacted in the 1950s and meant to protect the grid in times of war. However, many are criticizing the idea of utilizing an archaic law to rescue “uneconomical” plants.

Kevin McIntyre, Chairman of FERC

“It’s perhaps not the most obvious fit,” said Kevin McIntyre, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, during an electric grid conference The Washington Post hosted Thursday. “I am sure DOE has a handle on that issue,” he continued. McIntyre’s comments were tepid but still emblematic of widespread skepticism over the idea of emergency powers being a longterm solution for energy stability.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com. 

CoalZoom.com - Your Foremost Source for Coal News


 American Resources Corporation Secures Additional Coal Mining Equipment for Expansion of Existing Mines

American Resources Corporation (OTCQB: AREC), through its wholly owned subsidiary Quest Energy Inc., has secured additional key pieces of underground mining equipment that will allow the company to expand its existing coal production at several select mining operations. The equipment includes continuous miners, shuttle cars, and other support equipment that will be put into production immediately at Quest Energy’s various underground mines.

“We are very pleased to have obtained this equipment to allow us to increase production at our Deane Mining and McCoy Elkhorn subsidiaries,” stated Mark Jensen, Chief Executive Officer of American Resources Corporation. “Our team has worked hard and diligently to expand the production capabilities at several of our key mining operations in advance of receiving this equipment, and we are now able to immediately and significantly increase our coal production to meet our growing customer demand.”

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com. 

CoalZoom.com - Your Foremost Source for Coal News


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