In the Tri-County Electric Cooperative Hi-Lites issue of May 2014, the general manager has a commentary regarding the federal EPA and proposed guidelines for the emitting of carbon dioxide for all new and proposed coal and natural gas plants built in the future.
As a member of Tri-County, past president of the organization, past president of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, past chairman of the Power Production Committee of Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, with an accumulated service total of approximately 40 years, I would pose some observations, ask some questions and issue some challenges.
Most of the article is based upon conjecture, assumptions and what if’s. When this type of article is published, the primary purpose is to arouse individuals. Using speculation is not a sturdy foundation upon which to build a premise.
First, new rules are always a dynamic of government. Speculation about what the rules will be for existing power plants is pure conjecture. If rules for new power plants are imposed upon existing plants without modification, yes the hurdle will be high and some of the existing plants will be forced into closure. This may cause rates to spike short term and possibly long term. When sulfur dioxide rules were proposed and imposed some decades ago the cry echoed what (General Manager Marcia Scott) is now saying. The industry did survive with technology innovation and still prospers today.
Realizing that carbon dioxide is a different animal with demanding challenges, different outcomes may follow, but my bet will be on technology advances, and coal will not be eliminated as a fuel but may once again become the prominent fuel of the future. To extrapolate happening of 1987 with the outcome for today is a far reach. The country has changed. Natural gas indeed has become a plentiful fuel and no one can guess how long this power source will last, just as it cannot be predicted how long coal, oil or any other resource will last.