Texas, a stalwart in using coal for electricity, has seen three proposed coal plants tank since the beginning of December. The Limestone 3 unit, which would have produced 745MW of power, went belly-up the first week of December. Developers spent six years trying to get that plant permitted and built before throwing in the towel.
In the last week of January Las Brisas Energy announced the cancellation of a 1320 MW proposed plant (the plant would have used a petroleum refinery product which is much like coal, called pet coke).
On Thursday, February 14, White Stallion Energy gave plant opponents the sweetest Valentine possible by announcing that it isn’t going to pursue its 1200MW coal plant any longer.
Did they quit because of a lack of water? Air quality concerns? The impact on the health of local citizens?
Nope. It was all about the bottom line.
White Stallion said in a very short press release, “the presently low price of natural gas has made the price of electricity from a new coal fired generator uncompetitive at this time”
That is COO speak for “this project is too expensive for us to make any money.”
Which brings us full circle to the questions people have been asking since January 2008: what makes Plant Washington such a good investment?
There is no pro-forma study to justify the project, in fact there is no independent information to support this multi-billion dollar plant,, and there never has been. Washington EMC officials have told us that much. They spent $1M of our money on a project which has no data or cost analysis to demonstrate that it is a sound way to spend our money (and it is our money since the co-op belongs to the members).
The Texas Observer’s coverage the day after White Stallion bucked its project summed up the present status of the coal industry with the article”Coal, an Obituary.” It included these observations and analyses:
- “coal stopped making economic sense. In short, coal got fracked.”
- “The story for White Stallion is similar too: local opposition that started small but grew (it certainly helped that the conservative county judge turned against it); major regulatory impasses for the company; and a bottom-line that had the bottom fall out of it.”
- “The White Stallion developers also didn’t do themselves any favors with ridiculous claims that the plant would lower electricity rates locally and that their traditional coal plant was a “clean coal” facility.”
- “It’s weird to say, but get used to it: Coal is expensive.”
The Texas Observer also forecasts, “Wind power is cheaper. Even solar is fixing to eat coal’s lunch, if it isn’t already doing so. El Paso Electric Company recently agreed to buy power from a New Mexico solar farm for a little under 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. A new coal plant costs twice as much.”
Perhaps the most damning statement about White Stallion came from Eva Malina, with the local No Coal Coalition. Malina said, “I think they thought that since we were a small rural community, they would not encounter opposition. They were wrong.”