Coal Country Commentary ~ Our Future is Clearly Renewable Energy

by admin on November 29, 2021

Solar panels and distributed generation are appropriate

Coal supporters continue to mislead on future of renewable energy

Op-Ed Commentary Letter by Allan Tweddle, Charleston Gazette, 5/26/21

The statements by the coal adherents in a story in Tuesday’s Gazette-Mail surely are based on their GOP (“Greed Over People”) obsessions. They obviously do not care about their children, if they have any, or any environmental future for all our generations to come.

Just like the polar bears are dying off due to climate change, and so many other species that are disappearing, we, the human species that are causing the climate change crisis, too will increasingly not have any food as the planet continues to heat up.

Statements like Republican Rep. Alex Mooney’s claim that “eliminating fossil fuels will lead to job losses and unsustainable energy prices” have no basis in fact. Quite the opposite. As has been widely reported, England is where the first coal-fired power plant was built and operated in 1880s. By 2017, they were coal free, having determined that coal-fired power was more costly than clean renewable alternatives.

And again, my native Province of Ontario’s largest public utility, the Ontario Power Authority, concluded in 2005 that burning coal is not only poisoning the people, the air and the planet, but that clean, safe, renewable alternatives are less costly than coal. They began the shutdown, replacing them completely with lower-cost renewables by 2015.

When the OPA came to the conclusion that the cost of coal was higher, solar energy was at the time 90% higher in cost than it is today, but even then, in total, solar was less costly than coal.

The OPA was Arch Coal’s biggest customer for West Virginia coal. And once coal was gone, replaced with renewables, the OPA was able to reduce some utility rates by as much as 30%.

As to the cost of jobs, here again Mooney and his fellow coal lemmings are spouting baseless claims. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the rate of solar job growth, as coal declines, is soaring.

As to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, he ought to stick to trying to be a better lawyer. Science is not his best friend. His statement that “… applying an impossible standard is not feasible on any level” is laughable. All around the country and the globe, from California to New England, to Canada, to the U.K. to Germany and many other communities, numerous successful transitions to renewables prove Morrisey’s claim false.

If Morrisey is right, why doesn’t he present any facts, instead of making wild claims? When the largest public utility in the country, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, has now in place two 20-year fixed-price contracts for solar energy at $0.02 and $0.03 per kilowatt hour, Morrisey’s statements look pretty foolish.

There are several added costs of coal that the these folks never talk about.

First, there is the horrible life expectancy for underground coal miners. As an engineer whose entire career has been focused on eliminating air pollution in myriad workplaces, saving the health of the workers and surrounding communities, I’m asking why has that ever been tolerated?

Secondly, communities near coal plants have higher premature-death rates. The environmental damages caused are additional and very real costs of coal. We taxpayers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per site to clean up the waste and environmental damages the coal industry leaves behind. Why aren’t the shareholders being assessed with these real costs of mining and burning coal?

What’s wrong with transitioning to the clean, safe, job-creating opportunities in renewables that so many other states and countries are enjoying? Mooney, Morrisey and others like them are spouting dangerous deceptions to placate the coal company shareholders who are seeing their investments dwindle.

We ratepayers and taxpayers must rise up and be heard. Renewable energy technologies are much less costly than coal, and we deserve that the local utilities stop clinging to the costly poisoning past and embrace the future trends that the rest of the civilized world is expanding into.

Forbes magazine published a report last year stating that it would cost the coal utilities less to build renewable-powered replacement plants than the current costs to operate coal plants for just one year.

Is there anyone in West Virginia who would not be interested in lower utility rates?


See Also: A Mine Disaster in Russia Highlights Safety Shortfalls in Rush to Dig Coal, November 26, 2021

MOSCOW — At least 46 miners were killed in an explosion at a Siberian mine. The director of the mine has been taken into police custody, along with five other administrators.

In the days before his death in a mine explosion in Russia’s coal-rich Kuzbass region, Boris Piyalkin lamented that the safety standards in his workplace were inadequate. “He sat and cried, and was just scared,” said Anzhelika Piyalkina, the daughter-in-law of Mr. Piyalkin, who had spent three decades working as a miner but increasingly feared the conditions in which he was being asked to work.

Mr. Piyalkin, who was 55 years old, was one of 46 miners and six rescuers killed Thursday by the explosion at the Listvyazhnaya mine in Belovo, about 2,200 miles east of Moscow and two hours south of Kemerovo. The accident occurred after a ventilation shaft began filling with gas while 285 people were underground, according to officials. Mr. Piyalkin’s wife, Inna Piyalkina, in a video widely circulated in Russian media, said he had reported that the methane levels at the mine “were going through the roof.” She added, “My husband came home from work every day and said it wouldn’t end well.”

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