Too Much, Too Fast

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Black Dog Power Plant along with students from the University of Minnesota Chapter of CFACT. While we were taking the tour, we learned that the Black Dog Power Plant will be one of around 170 coal power plants around the nation that will be closing due to new, burdensome regulations from the EPA. While the gas turbine at Black Dog Power Plant will continue to operate, it will cease using coal this coming April.

One of the biggest problems that will be caused by the closure of these power plants is the lack of replacement facilitates. By the end of 2015, when roughly 170 coal power plants will have shut down, the United States power grid will lose roughly 20,000 megawatts of coal generated energy.  Of those 20,000 megawatts of coal based energy, 16,000 will not be replaced. Due to this decrease in supply, the price for energy will doubtless increase.

This increase in energy cost will not be the only problem caused by the shutdown of these coal power plants. Some regions may find their power grid simply doesn’t have the required energy needed to meet demand. One energy supplier, Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc. says that by 2016 they could face a power grid deficit of 2,000 megawatts due to the closure of coal based power plants.

There are currently plans to increase the number of gas based power plants, which should help offset the loss of coal based power plants, but construction hasn’t even started on 75% of those plants, and some of the plants are still awaiting regulatory approval by the EPA. The end result is the people of the United States are going to be the ones feeling the pinch. All thanks to the EPA closing too many coal power plants, far too quickly.