By Bill Reid, Managing Editor, CoalZoom.com
November 15, 2023 - “Don’t Deny the Storm – Chart a Course to Calmer Waters and a Prosperous Future” was the title of a presentation on 21st Century Coal made to the Congressional Coal Caucus last month by Steve Winberg, CEO, Net-Negative CO2 Baseload Power, Inc. and former Assistant Secretary, Office of Fossil Fuel, DOE.
The Congressional Coal Caucus comprises an influential group of over 70 mostly Republicans and plays a key role in aiding legislative and policy debates relating to the coal industry. This was an important presentation and the Caucus listened to it with great interest.
“Coal has a number of headwinds explained Winberg. “These include: EPA’s proposed Greenhouse Gas Standards and Guidelines for Fossil Fuel -Fired Power Plants; the Administration aggressively seeking to irreversibly eliminate coal both domestically and internationally; the inflation Reduction Act (IRA) severely tilted the playing field against coal. IRA provides much richer solar and wind tax credits,” he said.
Winberg warned that last year, coal consumption for electricity generation was 506 million tons and would decline to 175 million in 2030, while coal generating capacity last year was 197 GW and would fall to 68 GW. Thus by 2030, coal for electricity generation will lose two thirds of 2022 coal sales with losses even higher given EPA’s intent to impose more emissions regulations. The coal fleet continues to age and investment capital is focused on maintenance of production. The coal industry needs to protect its marker share and technology is the long-term answer.
“There are a number of coal tailwinds, too, and one of them is the House Coal Caucus!” Winberg added going on to say, “Affordable” electricity is getting attention and in 2022, average electricity prices rose 14.3%. “Dependable” electricity is getting attention with hearings involving FERC and NERC raising reliability and resiliency concerns: NERC’s long-term forecast says more than 70% of the U.S. grid is at risk. Winberg continued, ”clean” electricity is misunderstood – it is not limited to renewables. Coal with biomass co-firing and CCS on the back end can provide 24X7 electricity with net-negative CO2 emissions.”
The Congressional Coal Caucus has a number of priorities including: grid reliability, oversight on EPA’S power plant agenda, future coal use, rail service reliability, policies to promote coal exports, oversight on the DOI federal coal leasing program and supporting pro-coal tax policies. The Caucus co-chairs are: Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Harriett Hageman (R-WY), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Dan Meuser (R-PA), and Carol Miller (R-WV). The first meeting establishing its priorities took place on May 17 this year.
The complete PowerPoint presentation can be seen here.