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A Reluctant Move Away from Coal

Scores of new coal-fired power plants that were being planned across the nation six or seven years ago have mostly been shelved. Last year alone, utilities and power-generating companies dropped plans to build 38 coal plants, according to the Sierra Club, while announcing they would retire 48 aging, inefficient ones. Stepping into the void is natural gas and renewables. Utilities have also more aggressively embraced demand-side management strategies to bend down the growth curve.

As coal prices soar, Wyoming needs to increase severance taxes

Gov. Matt Mead and the newly convened Legislators should at least look at what former Gov. Sarah Palin did in Alaska, in modifying that state's severance tax rates.My understanding is that the Alaska system involves indexing rates, which is what Wyoming should consider. As coal prices rise, so should the severance tax rate. As prices go down, so should the rate. This is fair and market-driven. With an outlook this promising, Wyoming citizens and the future generations of Wyomingites will benefit greatly.

Why the defeatist attitude toward carbon sequestration?

In 1969 the U.S. set off a 40 kiloton nuclear bomb underground near Rulison, Colo., to “stimulate” natural gas production. But, hey, it’s the slow, monitored injection of CO2 that’s going to set off an earthquake.To be fair, the numbers produced in modeling carbon sequestration are staggering. According to one initial estimate by the Wyoming State Geological Survey, the Rock Springs Uplift in southwest Wyoming could accept up to 26 billion tons of CO2. That’s a lot of liquefied gas. Wyoming’s gross gas production over the past three years equals only about 0.006 percent of that volume.

Interior official: Modernize the grid

The investment is critical to increasing the use of solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources, as well as cleaner coal technologies such as carbon capture and seqestration, said Steve Black, counelor to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.“The importance of modernizing the electricity grid in this nation really cannot be overstated,” said Black. “Wyoming, for a small state, it is truly at the epicenter of all of what we’re doing in the West, particularly on energy,” said Black.Black discussed Wyoming’s role in meeting the president’s clean energy goals during a meeting of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority today in Jackson, an event that attracted about 100 professionals in the electrical generation and transmission industry.

Shifting markets haven't tripped up PRB coal

Naturally, there’s some concern among Powder River Basin producers that eastern utilities will tap coal resources closer to home that have higher Btu content and lower transportation costs. But there’s not been a great deal of coal-switching. Each coal-fired unit must be carefully dialed-in to the specific blend of coal its fed. Switching coal sources and recalibrating these units is not easy or inexpensive.

Coal industry seeks exports to Asia while U.S. market falters

America’s No. 2 coal-producer, Arch Coal Inc., announced last week that it paid $25 million to acquire 38 percent interest in Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview, LLC, one of dozens of companies scrambling to boost coal export capacity from the West Coast to customers in Asia.With the Millennium Bulk deal, Arch joins Peabody Energy Corp. — both major producers of Powder River Basin coal in Wyoming — in banking on the Asian coal market for growth. Wyoming coal producers Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy and railroads Union Pacific and BNSF Railway have all expressed interest in boosting coal exports from the West Coast.

CBM: bugs vs bankruptcy

The persistent low price of natural gas continues to push coal-bed methane gas operators in the Powder River Basin to the brink of bankruptcy.

Utility: Rising price of coal drives rate increase

In Rocky Mountain Power’s current rate increase request of 17.3 percent for Wyoming customers, utility officials say the rising cost of coal is a bigger factor.“One of the single biggest factors in our Wyoming pricing request is related to coal,” said Jeff Hymas, spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power, Wyoming’s largest regulated utility. “We have expiring contracts for coal used at our power plants, and expiring contracts for power we have to purchase.”

Back on Track: Wyoming coal rebounds amid market, regulatory uncertainty

Wyoming coal producers fared well during a tumultuous year for the industry nationwide, increasing output by an estimated 2.6 percent in 2010. It’s a modest recovery in production, after slipping 7.8 percent in 2009. Wyoming’s year-to-date coal production as of December 25 was 434 million tons, and the industry was on track to finish the year at 442.5 million tons, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.