Monday, December 17, 2007

Making Plans

According to the Post and Courier Santee Cooper has more up its sleeve than just 4 new coal plants (i.e. two at Cross, two in the Pee Dee).

Last week it announced plans to build a new natural gas-burning plant, while characteristically failing to offer any specific details about the project.

It appears that the plant would generate over 100 MW of electricity and come online in 2008. Natural gas plants, while still significant sources of carbon dioxide, the anthropogenic emissions of which are largely responsible for global warming, are far less polluting and costly than coal. Construction of this plant makes it even more feasible for Santee Cooper to meet the rest of its growth with energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Indeed, the article reported that Santee Cooper has boosted its expenditures on renewable energy to 1.6%. Of course, a 21st century utility, especially a state-sanctioned utility, should be spending far more than 1.6% of its budget on the energy supply of the future. It should also be spending more on efficiency, the energy supply of the present. Santee Cooper doesn' t spend enough on either.

And it still claims it must build two coal burning units on the Pee Dee. But Santee Cooper should be cautiously applauded for its actions (not its words), which suggest that it is beginning to plan for a world in which its proposed Pee Dee plants are NOT a reality.


Anonymous said...

Could you post a link or name the source of the graphic.

Very interesting, I would like to see how the numbers are broken down re; health and environmental costs.


Rusty said...

See today's (12/18/07) post. -Rusty

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Great blog!!

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I don't see that chart in the 12/18 post. Can you provide a link, please? Thanks.

John Mellor said...

It is derived from the Ontario cost benefit analysis referenced in the post from 12/18 -- check it out here (Large file warning!)

Anonymous2 said...

I am such a fan of you guys. You are so good at what you do, but I just have to point out a few things.

Again, important facts are left out. This compares the cost of uncontrolled coal plants to natural gas. If you used the same study to compare new, clean coal plants to gas using the same data, they would be very close.

Also, this report was completed in 2005 prior to the natural gas increases after Katrina, so gas was not assumed higher than $9/MMBtu CAN, where now it has been as high as $16 /MMBtu US and DOE outlooks show it could go to $20/MMBtu US.

If you were to normalize gas for the new price range, and use new coal plants, the cost of gas would be higher.

Why don't you guys do some real journalism and do that instead of twisting info for your own benefit?

Student said...


I guess that means Santee Cooper is stupid to build a new gas plant?!

You don't make any sense!

(I can't believe you are implying that coal is comparable to natural gas in terms of cleanliness! Oh what a tangled web we weave!)

Anonymous said...

Mike, Mike, Mike. You have just got to get better at this. I know you are getting a good education down there at CofC, so you just need to read the report.

What I was talking about is TOTAL COST. Just like that displayed in the graph here.

To get these numbers, you have to add up the financial cost from table 4.9 on page 14, the health costs from table 6.7 on page 29, and the environmental costs from table 8.1 on page 33.

Let me make this perfectly clear for you. If you compare Old coal and gas you get the graph on the webpage. If you add the retrofitted coal plant option (modern emissions controls or "clean coal" technology added to the old coal plants) in the report to the graph, the total electricity cost for clean coal is 10.4 cents/Kwh vs the 9.8 for gas, so they are very close.

Now, if you take into account increased energy prices since the report was completed in 2005 and leave everything else the same, the TOTAL COST of gas becomes higher than clean coal.

I added 40% to the gas fuel cost (that takes it to $16/MMBtu vs the $9/MMBtu in the report - US $ is about = to CAN $ BTW, but I know you can look that up).

I also added 20% to coal fuel cost, as that has increased since the report was released as well.

If you do that, you get a TOTAL COST of 12.95 cents/Kwh for gas and 11.46 cents/Kwh for clean coal.


That should make perfect sense for you.

Hey, I even went to the trouble of creating some charts for you (complete with references, unlike most stuff here). You can download them here:

Let me know if you need anymore help!