Coal rep: Power supply vulnerable in U.S.

An improving economy could expose gaps in the nation’s supply of electricity, the head of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity said Wednesday.

The closure of coal-fired generating stations has reduced the nation’s ability to produce electricity by 31 gigawatts, according to Mike Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

The loss of 31 gigawatts of electricity is equivalent to the demand of all but eight of the nation’s most energy-intensive states, Duncan said.

Should an economic recovery increase demand beyond the ability of natural gas to meet it, alternative sources also would fall short, said Duncan, a former chairman of the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The fate of coal is an issue in the presidential election, Duncan said, calling for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ditch its “hyperpolitical agenda to get rid of coal-based electricity,” adding that the Obama administration has made “turning on the light switch a political issue.”

The weight of regulation has fallen heaviest in the East, Duncan said.

“Western coal has not been as hard hit as Eastern coal, but it’s headed your way,” Duncan said.

Natural gas has replaced much of the coal-fired generation in the United States, but coal remains a major source of energy for burgeoning economies in India and China, Duncan said.

Given the reliability of coal-fired electricity, the United States could end up at a competitive disadvantage if it rules out coal as a source, Duncan said.


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