The Coming Self-Imposed Energy Crisis
Remember a few years back when the brown outs in California were headline events? What you may not know is that rolling brown outs have become a normal part of life for some communities. Like most things, if it happens long enough the story loses its interest and people don’t write about it anymore. The story however will become more dramatic within the next few years. In January 2015 a whole stream of new EPA air emission regulations go into effect. The intended result is to clean our air and give us a cleaner source of energy. Like most government programs however, things never work exactly to plan. The actual result is hundreds of thousands of megawatts per hour will stop being generated on December 31, 2014.
Many power plants that use coal as fuel will close down on or before December 31, 2014. These are plants that are cheaper to close than to refit to the new air emission standards. Is everyone enjoying what that same approach has done to the refinery business in the United States? This same approach has led to needlessly high gas prices at the pump, as we continue to force reductions in our domestic refining capacity and increasingly have to import refined gasoline. The same will be happening soon with our electricity.
As these plants shut down, the supply of electricity will shrink dramatically. As the supply shrinks, by necessity, the price of electricity will climb. The price will continue to climb until supply and demand find a new operating level. States that were once large exporters of electricity to other states are seeing their surpluses shrink. Soon they will join the ranks of states that must import electricity.
The problems that have led to a shrinking supply are many and continue to grow. Excessive permitting requirements, local opposition from Not In My Backyard folks, ever more stringent EPA regulations, labor quarrels, politicians who do not adequately educate themselves regarding energy generation, etc. Building a power plant today is a litigious process that can cost millions of dollars just jumping through the years of hoops in the hope of obtaining a permit to build. Every
step of the way, one group or another will be opposing you and trying to stop you from building. Every group or person that opposes you however wants the lights to come on every time they flip the switch.
So what is the best solution?
We’re not keeping up with the growing demand and we will be losing hundreds of thousands of megawatts per hour of generating capacity. If you are not building new power plants fast enough to keep up with the growing demand, how foolish is it to force the closure of current generating capacity?
The answer is to come up with a way to keep the current generating capacity online. Coal cannot do it alone. To meet the new air emission standards requires either retrofitting, which these plants cannot afford, or a new source of fuel to compliment coal. The answer to that problem is RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) pellets. Even in boilers from the 1950’s you can utilize 30% to 50% RDF pellets mixed with coal. Using the RDF pellets reduces the air emissions to the point that the power plant would meet the new EPA air emission standards with very little or most likely no retrofitting whatsoever. RDF pellets reduce non-renewable CO2 emissions by over 50%, they reduce sulfur emissions by over 90%, and reduce nitrox emissions by over 10% when compared to coal. The supply is endless, it is renewable, and it is green.
By using a RDF pellet/Coal mix the power plant remains open, the generating capacity stays in the market, people keep their jobs, revenue continues for the company that owns the plant, shutdown costs are avoided, electricity prices would be able to remain stable, tax revenue continues to be generated.
Nothing is gained by the shutdown of all of this capacity. Our nation is preparing to shoot itself in the foot in January of 2015. Everything is to be gained by keeping our power plants open. If your local power plant isn’t aware of RDF pellets make them aware. Give them our contact information. Tell them you don’t want higher electricity prices in 2015. Tell them in this economy we can’t afford to lose good paying power plant jobs. Reach out to us. Reach out to them.