Clean coal power plants face serious problems


By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

So-called clean coal power plants might not be the answer to new EPA regulations governing the reduction of carbon dioxide.

The EPA released Monday new requirements for Mississippi that would force the state to decrease carbon dioxide emissions 39 percent from 2005 levels. In 2012, the state expended 1,140 pounds of carbon dioxide for every megawatt generated. The EPA wants a plan from the state to decrease that to 692 pounds per megawatt-hour by 2030. The goal of the regulations is to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions 30 percent overall.

While coal isn’t as big a part of Mississippi’s energy equation as other sources — U.S. Energy Information Administration, reports Mississippi receives only 15 percent of its electrical power from coal-fired turbines — the fact most of the state’s coal-fired plants are in need of replacement makes it a contentious issue. Of the four major coal plants in the state with a capacity of 400 megawatts or more, only one (Red Hills in Choctaw County), is fewer than 30 years old.

Power companies hoping to switch to next-generation clean coal power plants that are compliant with the new regulations might find a sobering price tag. The only two integrated gasification combined cycle plants operational or under construction in the United States are plagued with technical problems and cost overruns.

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