Posted by: JohnnyRook | December 22, 2008

A Little Bit of Good News About Coal

The Tampa Herald Tribune is reporting that:

Under a deal with state regulators, Progress Energy Florida has agreed to retire two of its four coal-fired units at Crystal River, deemed by environmentalists to be among the dirtiest power plants in the nation.

The two units, which were built in the 1960s, will be retired after the utility builds a nuclear plant in Levy County, 10 miles north of Crystal River. The plant is expected to go on line in 2016.

Retiring the two coal units would cut emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming, by 5.5 million tons a year, said Jeff Lyash, president and chief executive of Progress Energy Florida.

“They are our oldest, most carbon-intensive generating resources,” Lyash said. “We needed to work our way out of dependence on those plants.”

The two units can generate up to 866 megawatts, enough power for 53,000 Florida homes.

In addition, the utility agreed to spend more than $1.3 billion on improvements to its two other coal units at Crystal River. The improvements will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, the chief causes of smog and acid rain, by 90 percent, Lyash said.

This agreement is part of Governor Charlie Crist’s call to reduce Florida’s CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2025. Unfortunately, that goal is too modest to meet the requirements for avoiding the 2 degree Celsius temperature rise that climate scientists say is necessary. Nevertheless, it is a start toward dismantling already existing coal-fired power plants which is an extremely important step. There is a lot of attention focused on stopping new coal-fired power plants, which is vital, but we need to keep in mind, as Jim Hansen reminds us, that we need to stop using coal altogether by 2030. That means shutting down these older plants, which are the most polluting that we have, not only in terms of GHG’s but also conventional pollutants like sulfur dioxide.

Good news. Now let’s shut down the other two as well.

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