The problem with coal power

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:29

Some people love to say that “coal is cheap,” and they used to be right.  However, the cost of coal itself increased 400% from 2003 to 2008.  In 2008, Duke Energy spent $190 million more on coal than they did in 2007.  The price has dropped since the economic crisis, but continued price volatility is expected going forward.  


The reality is that coal is a finite resource.  We will run out of it someday.  As the supplies start to decline, getting to the coal is getting more difficult, and the cost will continue to rise.  What is not taken into account when considering the cost of electricity coming from coal are the other costs that are externalized and that we all have to pay.  These costs include environmental and health costs.

  • $5 billion each year is spent in Indiana on health care costs related to fine particle pollution.
  • $100 billion each year is spent nationally on health care costs related to coal pollution.
  • $13 million a year in tourism revenue is lost at Indiana 's National Parks because of smog and haze due to power plant pollution.
  • $87 million a year is lost in farm revenue due to crop losses caused by ground level ozone (smog created by nitrogen oxides emitted from coal-fired power plants) which reduces plant growth and yield.
  • Acid Rain - the average pH of rain in Indiana is 4.5, which is ten times more acidic than normal rain (normal rain has a pH of 5.5).  Acid rain causes damage to buildings, historical monuments and even cars.

These costs make coal very expensive.  When we have to pay with our health and our lives, it is not worth it.

 

 

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