5 Sep 2012

Webinar Sept. 11 on risks of closing 25 gigawatts watts of coal-fired U.S. electric capacity by 2015

Written by Jim Pierobon

As a big ‘squeeze’ on coal-fired power plants in the U.S. continues to gather steam, questions abound whether natural gas can make up virtually all of the difference needed to keep electricity flowing reliably AND keep consumer prices from rising significantly.

That is just one of the many questions that was addressed in a unique webinar hosted by The Energy Collective on Tuesday, September 11 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Joining me were be Branko Terzic, Executive Director of Deloitte’s Center for Energy Solutions  and Bradford Radimer, Director of Risk Control at NRG Energy.

You can listen to the webinar with the illustrations provided here.

Yes, renewables are gaining momentum; and industry and residential energy efficiency initiatives are proving increasingly popular. But the sheer scale of the estimated 25 gigawatts of coal generation to be shut down during the next three years is not without certain risks as I spell out in this recent post.

The now-shuttered coal-fired Crawford power plant in Chicago. You can see the John Hancock Tower on the lakefront in the far background. CREDIT Jose M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune.

Two Chicago-based coal plants (photo) and three such plants in West Virginia which generated their last kilowatts in August typify what is happening throughout much of the U.S., especially near large population centers and throughout Appalachia.

“Everybody wants clean air and clean water,” acknowledged Douglas McFarlan, a spokesman for Midwest Generation, which owns the Fisk and Crawford plants in Chicago and now is disassembling them. “We want that as well. How do we do that while sustaining the quality of life we have here in the United States?” he asked in this September 2 piece by the Chicago Tribune.

FirstEnergy Corp. recently shuttered the Albright, Rivesville and Willow Island power plants.

Terzic is former Chairman, CEO and President of Yankee Energy System Inc. and Yankee Gas Services Company (Connecticut). Earlier he was a Commissioner on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and State of Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Radimer is responsible for designing and managing enterprise wide risk policies at NRG. He is also co-leader of the team that wrote the risk management standards recommendations for energy marketers under the auspices of the Committee of Chief Risk Officers (CCRO). Prior to joining NRG in 2007, he was the Director, Trading Operations for PSEG Energy Resources & Trade LLC.

Together we will also strive to answer these, and other, questions:

  • How will the power market and regulators deal with closing 25 gigawatts of generating capacity in just three years?
  • How much new natural gas can fill the gap?
  • Is there even enough natural gas pipeline capacity available?

Reply to this post with questions you would like posed to the panel and be sure to join us next Tuesday.

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