Friday, August 17, 2012

Coal plant cleanup law benefits consumers, study says

North Carolina's 2002 Clean Smokestacks Act, which cracked down on pollution from coal-fired power plants, will save consumers money as it keeps them healthier, says a paper from Duke University.

Scholars at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions found that complying with the state law put N.C. utilities ahead of the game in meeting two upcoming federal standards.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, announced last year, reduces power-plant emissions that add to smog and fine-particle pollution. A second set of new standards place the first federal controls on mercury and other toxic emissions from coal-fired plants.

Because N.C. utilities have already paid for pollution controls to meet Clean Smokestacks, they and their customers will save money in meeting the new federal standards. Duke Energy and its new subsidiary, Progress Energy, plan to shut down older coal-fired units rather than upgrade them.

Expected costs of meeting the new federal standards will depend on how long pollution controls stay in service and how much it will cost to replace them.

Future savings for Duke Energy Carolinas customers, for example, range from $1.2 billion to $1.9 billion under the decades-long scenarios the paper analyzed. Those in Progress Carolinas territory would save $600 million to $1.1 billion. The savings drop, but stay in the hundreds of millions of dollars, when past spending under the state law is included.

Clean Smokestacks also kept people alive longer by giving them cleaner air to breathe, the paper says. It put the median monetary benefits of avoiding premature N.C. deaths at $6 billion to $16 billion, depending on two differing studies, from 2005 through 2011 -- several times more than customers paid for pollution controls.


Unknown said...

It’s shaping up to be cold winter for the global sector. Despite healthy general demand from Asia and Europe, supplies remain in excess as many U.S. firms try to export their way out of the state-side crisis. Those robust supplies have caused global prices for the fuel to drop steadily across the board over the last few months.
Don Blankenship