Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Accounting for All Costs in Energy Decisions

In January of 2007, Jack Markell published an op-ed on Delaware’s energy future in which he urged regulators to take a long view of the economics of energy production. Yesterday, the News Journal reports that Markell declared that regulators should take a broader view of the costs of energy by including health costs in making decisions about meeting our energy needs.
Markell is asking the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Controls (DNREC) to formally intervene in the Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) docket before the Public Service Commission (PSC). The IRP, which is Delmarva Power’s long range plan to provide electricity to Delaware, is now before the PSC.
The News Journal writes that
one feature of the IRP could have an enormous impact on the air we breathe:
Pepco Holdings is planning to put up a $1.425 billion, high-voltage power line through to transmit more power from coal-rich Appalachia.
But state environmental officials have concerns that reliance in a long-term plan on out-of-state generation by coal-fired plants spews toxins into the air that eventually move east and can end up in the lungs of Delawareans.
Coal power may look cheap on paper, until you factor in the health costs of breathing dirty air. Jeremy Firestone and Willett Kempton calculated in 2007 that the health care savings of replacing coal power with wind power to be one billion dollars over the next 25 years. It’s not hard to see how some of these costs come back to the state budget; Delaware’s Medicaid budget is more than $500 million this year.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has long been my position that, and in accordance with what Gary Stockbridge said last year, the MAPP would be 'lined' with a few new nuke plants on the pipeline further south (VA, MD?). The push from the Democratic Sens. from WVA sure makes it look like coal's an important component of the grid.
DP&L is estimating it's portfolio for a third coal a third nuke and a third gas with a smidgeon for sustainable.
Bushie was pushing hard for MAPP to which means that status quo money is behind the idea.
Yet, Kavips and others want MAPP for distribution of the new off shore wind energy.
So it is an interesting problem that will benefit from DNREC's direct involvement. The questions about these 160 foot high lines running through Bombay Hook need to be answered with environmental concerns to the fore.

9:04 AM, March 04, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave Small, Acting Director of DNREC, said yesterday: “We must look at not only how much power will cost per month, but also how much more we will have to pay in the long run to clean up pollution or treat health problems caused by toxins in the air, land or water,” Is DNREC not missing the point again? "We" shouldn't be paying for pollution, or for the increased cost of health care caused by polluters. Polluters should be paying. Are we ever going to see an end to agency groupthink which discounts the public health consequences of pollution, and refuses to levy substantial penalties when polluters cause substantial damage?

10:08 PM, March 04, 2009  
Blogger SimplyGreen said...

It is good that DNREC will weigh in on this important topic. We need to be careful what we wish for, with respect to this new transmission. Yes, it might export wind (once we need to do that-- that's a long way off); but it seems to me to be a lot more likely that this MAPP line will make it much easier to import more so-called "cheap" coal-based energy from the Ohio River valley.
By hooking up bigger transmission lines to far away coal-fired power plants, we create that much more demand for these unsustainable, unproductive choices for power generation.
Why not focus the money and the effort instead on greatly reducing demand for energy through efficiency and distributed power generation and developing truly clean sources of power in-state (such as wind and solar)? If we really put our money and effort into these goals, would we really need such things as MAPP?

10:50 AM, March 12, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm late.

The MAPP line works both ways. It CAN transport coal energy to the east coast. It can also transport wind energy to large metropolitan areas.

The time to build is now because costs are rising.

If it does transport coal energy, it improves the efficiency of that transmission. Meaning that if before we needed 1 gigawatt of energy, we would not have to burn enough coal to create 1.23 gigawatts, losing .23 gigs through the inefficiencies of today's grid...

So building the line, cuts down in part on the amount of carbon burnt to meet today's costs, by eliminating inefficiencies.

Now let's flip to the other side.
If wind is to become commercially viable, it must have these lines up and ready before wind farms come on line... The problem with wind energy lies in its dispersal.. Sending wind energy on "good" days to a major metropolitan area is required to keep wind turbines from going offline.

The sooner wind becomes commercially viable, the more rapidly we will wean ourselves off coal.

9:16 PM, March 17, 2009  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

The Bluewater Wind project has been scaled to meet Delaware’s needs, not those of the greater PJM grid, which raises doubts about the argument that the MAPP would make it easier to distribute offshore wind power to states west of Delaware.

Of course, I would like to see the Bluewater project grow to the point at which distribution throughout the PJM grid made economic and engineering sense.

9:42 PM, March 17, 2009  

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