http://www.cleanenergy.org/2009/03/18/coal-plant-overview/

SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Coal Plant Overview

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Across the Southeast region, the race to build new coal-fired power plants has slowed dramatically in recent years. The remaining coal plant still on the table in Georgia (see below), would:

  • perpetuate our serious air pollution problems here in the Southeast,
  • aggravate excessive levels of mercury already in our waterways,
  • maintain our dependence on dirty coal mined in unsustainable ways,
  • exacerbate the global warming problem by adding hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide pollution into the atmosphere,
  • steal the stage from clean, modern, safe energy alternatives like solar, wind, and bioenergy.

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is working to prevent new coal plants from being constructed in our region. We believe a clean energy future is possible and is here today and we need your help!

Together with our partners, we successfully defeated three coal plant proposals in Florida, but we are still challenging one plant proposal in Georgia. Here is a list of the coal plants that SACE worked recently to stop and the one remaining in the works:

  • Cliffside – Duke Energy, Unit 6 – 800MW, Rutherfordton, NC. Permitted by the NC Division of Air Quality (DAQ) and is now OPERATING.
  • Pee Dee – Santee Cooper’s proposed, 1320MW facility in Florence, South Carolina was CANCELLED with overwhelming activist and citizen opposition in the fall of 2009. SACE supported the efforts of our colleagues to stop this facility and advocate for alternatives.
  • Plant Washington – Power4Georgians (10 EMCs), 850MW, Washington County, Georgia. PROPOSED. SACE is leading efforts to defeat this proposed plant with our Georgia allies. See below for our Plant Washington Fact Sheet. Power4Georgians proposal to build another 800MW coal plant in Ben Hill, Ga was CANCELLED.
  • Seminole – Seminole Electric Cooperative, 750 MW, FL. After Governor Crist denied the permit to build this palnt, Seminole sued the state of Florida and the court later overruled the permit denial. SACE is pleased to announce that on Dec. 17, 2009 Seminole Electric Cooperative CANCELLED their plans to pursue construction of this facility.
  • Longleaf – Dynegy, 800MW, CANCELLED, Georgia.

For additional information about proposed coal plants in the country and the region, visit the Sierra Club’s site: http://www.sierraclub.org/environmentallaw/coal/plantlist.asp.

Impacts of coal plants

Coal plants have one the largest environmental footprints on this planet of any industrial facility. From the destructive mining practices to extract coal from mountaintops to the burning of coal at the power plant, coal is undoubtedly one of the most risky of energy practices.

  • Water Impacts: Coal-fired power plants in the Southeast release 30,000 pounds of mercury pollution annually that contaminate our lakes and rivers, making recreation and eating fish unhealthy. These plants rank as the largest industrial source of mercury emissions in the region. Airborne mercury emissions eventually find their way into water sources, generally through rainfall. In addition, coal plants are huge water hogs, requiring vast amounts of water to produce electricity. In fact, coal plants are second only to nuclear power plants in terms of water intensity. In times of drought, such as what the Southeast is experiencing now, we cannot afford to lose so much water to highly consumptive power plants. We need water for our people and crops.
  • Air Quality: Coal plants produce soot- and smog-forming pollution (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) that are leading contributing factors to respiratory diseases like asthma. Coal plants also emit a plethora of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) – otherwise known as toxins. Pollution from dirty coal-fired power plants significantly contributes to the poor air quality throughout the Southeast. The lives of nearly 10,000 people are cut short every year in the region due to particulate matter pollution from coal-fired power plants.
  • Global Warming Impacts: Fossil fuels like coal and oil are one of the largest sources of global warming pollution. In the United States, coal-fired power plants, whose carbon dioxide emissions are uncontrolled, represent the single largest source of carbon dioxide-the main global warming pollution. The United States is already the leading producer of global warming pollution. With only four percent of the world’s population, we produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution. Global warming is one of our toughest environmental challenges, threatening our public health, wildlife, and economies around the world. Building more traditional coal plants will only increase our contribution to global warming.
  • The price of coal has more than doubled over the past 5 years and is expected to continue increasing, making coal plant highly cost-inefficient. Ratepayers are the ones actually responsible for paying for these coal plants because the utility companies are passing their expenses on to their customers. Investing in coal is also a risky proposition for utility companies as the threat of federal regulation on carbon dioxide pollution is merely a matter of when, not if. Utility companies will find themselves with a global warming liability on their hands in years to come as carbon becomes more expensive to emit.

Solutions

A smart solution to Southeast energy needs is a plan based on energy efficiency and renewables.

Efficiency:
Energy efficiency is the cheapest, easiest, and quickest way to meet energy demand. It saves money and the environment. Before consideration of new power plants, full investment in energy efficiency must be underway.

Renewables:
The Southeast’s significant renewable energy potential remains largely untapped. Through a combination of energy efficiency initiatives and renewable energy sources such as biomass, off-shore wind, and solar power, the Southeast can meet future energy demands without relying upon polluting, outdated technologies such as coal. Near-term, economically and technically feasible renewable energy resources in the Southeast can supply nearly 140,000 GWh of renewable electricity by 2020.

Renewable energy resources are distributed more evenly than fossil fuel reserves across the United States. Residents of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee currently export more than half of their energy dollars to import fuel from other states and countries, primarily as coal, uranium and natural gas. By those measures, the Southeast is transferring a significant portion of its wealth out of the region to purchase the energy it needs.

Investments in renewable energy aren’t just beneficial to the environment and human health, they are economically-sound. Fuel for renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, is free. The more we promote and invest in renewable technology now, the cheaper and more accessible it will become in the near future, and the more new jobs we create for our Southern states today!

A few facts about renewable potentials…

  • According to a University of Georgia report, Georgia has enough biomass potential to meet 12% of the state’s energy needs.
  • The Georgia Wind Resource Map has identified over 10,000 MW of wind energy potential off Georgia’s coast.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that if Georgia were to develop 1,000 MW of wind energy, it would annually save 1,628 million gallons of water and 3 million tons of CO2 and provide a total economic benefit of $2.1 billion.

What Is SACE Doing

  • SACE is dedicating significant staff resources to fight the Power4Georgians coal plant proposal for Plant Washington.

Related Links

  1. New Coal Plants
  2. Existing Coal Plants
  3. Local electricity provider information
  4. Mountaintop removal mining sites near or connected to you
  5. Bank of America and Citi Bank are funding many coal plants
  6. Carbon Monitoring for Action