Today’s lede: Baseload coal and nuclear power plant subsidies, where art thou? Here we are on the eve of the Labor Day weekend. Summer is gone, and still we’ve not seen action by the Trump administration on subsidies for coal and nuclear baseload generation that the president in June ordered “immediate steps” to implement (For background, see here and here). At a campaign-style rally in West Virginia last week, Mr. Trump said his administration would soon unveil “a military plan” that would be “something really special.”
So what’s the hold up? It doesn’t strike us as something they’d feel the need to hold back until after the midterm election. If anything, bring it out before November for coal-state Republicans to campaign on. Presumably, the cooler heads at the Department of Energy (and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission?) are struggling to fashion this market-killing plan in a way that could possibly survive inevitable legal challenge.
While the barrage of opinion pieces, both pro and con, has quieted down, The Hill features a new op-ed from two writers with strong military backgrounds, a perspective that has perhaps not been highlighted as it should, given the administration aims to peg its power plant subsidies on national security grounds.
“The electric grid is vulnerable to emerging and increasing threats, but bailing out uncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants would be a strategic misstep for U.S. energy policy. Not only would it not strengthen grid resilience, it would waste billions of dollars and impede the distributed energy revolution that promises real resilience benefits,” Michael Wu and Kevin Johnson argue in the op-ed.
Wu is a fellow at the Resource Security Program at New America and a principal at Converge Strategies, while Johnson is president of GlidePath Federal Solutions and a board member of the American Resilience Project and Clean Energy Leadership Institute. Wu helped create the Air Force Office of Energy Assurance, and founded the Defense Energy Program at the Truman National Security Project, which developed and advocated for policy supportive of the military’s clean energy and energy resilience initiatives. Johnson is a West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran dedicated to advancing clean energy given the national security implications of U.S. military dependence on fossil fuels.
Ensuring resilience of the energy grid won’t be achieved by extending the lives of uneconomic coal and nuclear plants, but by investing in the country’s aging and increasingly obsolete transmission and distribution grid, the two argue. Most electricity disruptions are due to problems with transmission and distribution infrastructure, not power plant availability. The administration has the “right diagnosis but the wrong prescription,” they say.
“Most of the transmission and distribution power lines in the United States are far past their life expectancy, and were not designed to meet today’s demand or severe weather,” Wu and Johnson write. The grid also is increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks, they note.
“These threats are evolving in the context of a rapidly transforming electric grid. The old centralized model is changing, with batteries, solar and other distributed sources of energy generation and storage growing exponentially. The total capacity of flexible energy resources on the U.S. electric grid is expected to more than double in the next five years. The global energy storage market is set to grow six-fold by 2030, following solar power’s explosive growth. In light of these dynamics, propping up aging power plants that have reached or surpassed their retirement age just doesn’t make sense.”
The Trump administration plans to subsidize plants that can’t compete in the market will cost consumers and taxpayers up to $34 billion over the next two years, and financing this “bailout” will hamper the growth of renewable and distributed energy resources, they point out.
“A more distributed energy grid, with thousands of energy generation and storage sources, will be inherently more difficult to disrupt than one built around large centralized power plants,” Wu and Johnson write. “Smart improvements to the grid system will minimize the risks of cascading outages, such as the 2003 power outage that affected more than 50 million people, or the largest power outage in U.S. history in Puerto Rico last year that knocked down 80 percent of the island’s power lines.”
There are a host of actions we can take that would be less costly and more effective to protect our electric grid, such as implementing cybersecurity standards for distribution grids, mandating cybersecurity standards for natural gas pipelines, and developing market-based, technology-agnostic tools that can be used to prioritize and justify resilience investments, they recommend.
“It seems the only people that seem to want a 20th century grid system to be preserved are companies that stand to directly benefit — an estimated 80 percent of coal subsidies would accrue to just five companies,” Wu and Johnson conclude. “It’s time to get serious about reforming the grid to ensure resilience and protect national security, but this administration’s proposed solutions don’t add up.”
California’s clean energy bill is a ‘very big deal,’ Obama’s energy secretary tells Axios. Ernest Moniz, who headed the Department of Energy during the Obama administration offered praise that California’s lawmakers approved legislation mandating a 100 percent carbon-free electricity supply by 2045.
“Here you have the fifth largest economy in the world saying we’re going to a carbon-free electricity sector in roughly 25 years. That is a very, very big deal,” Moniz said in a conversation with Amy Harder at Axios. But Moniz cited two challenges the state will face.
Developing energy storage will be key to implementing the mandate. “Batteries clearly are making a tremendous impact already when talking about hours of storage,” Moniz said. “But, what about when you need that backup for weeks or months. How are we going to handle that?”
He also cited the potential for NIMBY, given the vast amounts of land use a switch to mostly wind and solar sources will require. “Not in my backyard” opposition to traditional energy sources is nothing new, and renewable resources have not been immune, even though they don’t have the emissions and water impacts of fossil and nuclear resources. There is strong opposition to so-called “industrial” wind based on landscape impacts and noise. “We’re talking, here, a deployment on an unparalleled scale,” Moniz said, citing the need for cooperative land use management involving landowners, environmental groups and other stakeholders.
California’s top-down approach will only raise rates on consumers. Never ones to shy away from sweeping regulatory mandates, California politicians are now demanding that the state adopt 100 percent renewable energy before mid-century. Proponents however have insisted the 100 percent renewable target is necessary to combat climate change. Unfortunately, California has picked the most expensive way to do it. “The top-down planning approach to renewable expansion is going to be really expensive, and is going to be a lot more than the per unit costs we have seen to date,” says Devin Hartman of the R Street Institute, a D.C.-based free market think tank that has been at the forefront of advocating for competition in electricity. “If we can demonstrate, as the Texas model is, that we can drive pollution reductions in a way that benefits our economic self-interest, that’s a model that the world is more likely to follow. That’s what climate leadership is about.”
California power supply instability affects Arizona. In early August, Mohave Electric Cooperative issued its first energy shortage alert, but many people may have confused the announcement for something else. “First off I want to be sure that we’re very clear that we did not indicate anything about brownouts or blackouts — that came from somewhere else,” said Tyler Carlson, Mohave Electric Cooperative chief executive officer. When Western Electric Coordinating Council issued an energy emergency announcement, it was to notify the pubic that power suppliers’ conditions could progress to a situation requiring suppliers to shutter loads. MEC then issued the appeal to members to voluntarily conserve during peak hours, he said. At the end of May, California indicated that they may have possible shortages (through the summer)” Carlson said. “They were looking at the possibility of California blackouts and brownouts and energy shortages and that being the case, it would affect the market.”
Anti-nuclear group wants SONGS spent fuel moved to Camp Pendleton. Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles recently launched a letter-writing campaign urging the California State Lands Commission to authorize the local transfer of spent nuclear fuel at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to an area further east in Camp Pendleton, Dylan Heyden writes in TheInertia.com. It’s probably not a bad idea, but moving plutonium-laced spent fuel off site is not something a state agency can order into being. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission would have to authorize something like this, presumably licensing the U.S. Marine base storage facility under provisions of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.
“3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive nuclear waste at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Diego is currently in the process of being buried on the beach, just 100 feet from the ocean and a mere few feet above the water table,” the anti-nuclear group’s website says. “Send in a comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and demand a better solution: the nuclear waste should be moved off the beach to a new, above-ground concrete-reinforced temporary storage facility located further east in Camp Pendleton—where it can be protected from sea level rise and potential terrorist attack.”
A sub-group of PSRLA called the Committee to Bridge the Gap has created a petition page, urging concerned citizens to put their name on a letter voicing their discontent. The group claims this revised plan has the support of former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chief Greg Jaczko, U.S. government advisor on nuclear waste Tom English, and retired Navy Admiral Len Herring, according to Heydon’s report. The campaign maintains the failure to even consider the idea of moving the fuel east of the primary ISFSI site would be a serious oversight on the part of those involved in the decommissioning process.
Dominion continues to overearn, and Virginia ratepayers continue to not see refunds. A new report from regulators at Virginia’s State Corporation Commission finds Dominion overearned by some $300 million in 2017. The SCC said Dominion’s base rates produced a nearly 14 percent return on equity in 2017, or nearly 50 percent more than the 9 percent or 10 percent return it should earn, the Associated Press reports. Appalachian Power, the state’s second-largest utility, enjoyed excess revenues of more than $26 million last year.
“A new law passed this year makes it easier for the two companies to hold on to excess earnings rather than refund them to customers. The utilities said the law was needed to spur investments in the electric grid and renewable energy,” the AP report notes.
“As a regulated company, the SCC determines our rates and reviews our earning and from time to time will order us to provide refunds to our customers,” a Dominion spokesperson said. “This year, the additional earnings will be reinvested to help pay for all sorts of things customers have asked for like renewable energy, more reliability and a more modern energy grid – without raising rates. The new bill passed this year is good for Virginia. It will enable us to have fewer outages, more underground power lines and an expansion of renewable energy like the offshore wind turbines we’re planning off the coast of Virginia Beach, the first in the country in federal waters. So we’re very proud to be leaders when it comes to investing in cleaner, stronger, more reliable energy.”
More electric industry news of interest:
Court rejects bid to throw energy proposal off ballot. Arizonans are going to get a chance to decide whether they want to require utilities in the state to produce more of their power from renewable sources. The Arizona Supreme Court late Wednesday rejected various claims by attorneys for Arizona Public Service that the initiative sponsored by California billionaire Tom Steyer lacks sufficient valid signatures to go to voters in November. The justices provided no details about what they found wanting in the APS legal briefs, promising an explanation later. Wednesday’s ruling comes just two days after Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley said he found no evidence that initiative supporters had somehow tricked people into signing the initiative petitions. And Kiley rebuffed various efforts by APS to have him disqualify other signatures. The decision drew fire from Matthew Benson, spokesman for Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, the group that has been financed with more than $11 million from Pinnacle West Capital Corp., the parent company of APS. He said both Kiley and the justices got it wrong. But with the Supreme Court having the last word, Benson said the group now will focus on trying to convince voters that approval of the Proposition 127 will increase their electric bills, a contention disputed by initiative organizers. “Everyone supports clean energy,” he said. “The question is whether Arizona voters are willing to double their electric bills in order to approve Prop 127.”
Arizona Supreme Court: Voters will decide renewable-energy rules in November. Voters will decide in November whether Arizona’s Constitution should require electric companies to get half their electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind. Proposition 127, as the ballot measure is known, survived a challenge at the Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday, likely its final legal challenge. The court denied an appeal to a Maricopa County Superior Court decision from Monday that challenged the signatures collected to put the measure on the ballot and description of the measure. The proposal continues to face stiff opposition from the state’s biggest utility, Arizona Public Service Co., and a host of chambers of commerce and other institutions that have aligned with the company. It is backed by the advocacy network funded by Tom Steyer, a wealthy California activist who has pushed similar renewable-energy measures in other states. He also is funding voter registration events in multiple states, including Arizona. Prop. 127 would require electric companies to rely on solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and other renewable power sources for half their supply by 2030, and would not count nuclear towards that goal. “This decision is great news for all Arizonans who want a cleaner, healthier environment for future generations,” said DJ Quinlan, spokesman for the campaign. “This ruling is the final nail in the coffin of APS’ failed strategy to deny Arizonans a choice on clean renewable energy.”
Nevada congressman undecided on Question 3, Nevada’s divisive energy choice initiative. GOP congressman fears Question 3’s potential impact on rural power consumers. Add U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., to the growing list of Nevada politicians with concerns about Question 3, the controversial upcoming referendum on the future of Nevada’s energy market. Recent weeks have seen a bipartisan bevvy of state and federal lawmakers raise misgivings about the proposed state constitutional amendment that would allow consumers to pick their own power provider by 2023. The measure, known as the energy choice initiative, passed overwhelmingly in 2016, but it can’t take effect unless voters approve it again in November. Amodei — asked about the initiative on Monday during a wide-ranging editorial board meeting with the Reno Gazette Journal — said he was worried about how it would affect Nevada’s rural electric cooperatives. The Nevada Rural Electric Association, a nonprofit group that represents several such small power buyers largely in central and eastern Nevada, has come out against the measure. They fear the initiative’s anti-monopoly language could put them out of business. Amodei thinks they might be onto something. “If (Question 3) happens, who’s taking care of Winnemucca? Who’s taking care of Tonopah? Who’s taking care of Ely?,” he asked. “I don’t know what those answers are. I think the co-ops make a good point. They service some pretty important areas of the state. Changing the constitution’s a big deal,” Amodei added. “I just approach that very, very cautiously.”
Clark County teachers union backs Nevada’s energy choice ballot measure. Nevada’s largest local teachers union is throwing its support behind the effort to break up the state’s electricity monopoly. The Clark County Education Association announced Monday that it is endorsing the Energy Choice Initiative. The executive board deliberated the issue at a number of meetings and reached a decision on Aug. 18, spokesman Keenan Korth said. “CCEA wants the best for our community and the people of Nevada,” the union said in a statement. “We believe NV Energy has leveraged their monopoly power to overcharge the Clark County School District by millions of dollars every year, whereas a good corporate partner would use their influence to assist the district in times of financial strain.” Question 3, a proposed amendment to the Nevada Constitution on the November ballot, would shift the state from a monopoly-based utility to an energy-choice model in which customers would choose their providers from a market. Several gaming companies in Nevada, including Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and the Peppermill in Reno, have paid multimillion-dollar fees to leave NV Energy and purchase electricity from other sources. The district flirted with the idea a few months ago, after a few companies proposed the idea to the board, but shelved it.
Geothermal industry comes out against Nevada energy choice ballot initiative. The Geothermal Resources Council Policy Committee, an industry association that advocates for public policies that will promote the development and utilization of geothermal resources, has announced its opposition to the proposed Energy Choice Initiative on the 2018 ballot. If passed Question 3 would direct the Nevada Legislature to “establish an open, competitive retail electric energy market” no later than July 1, 2023. Question 3 would “disrupt Nevada’s progress on renewable energy by paralyzing future clean energy projects across the state” by dismantling and deregulating Nevada’s existing electricity system, the industry group said in a statement. Nevada is ranked second in the U.S. for geothermal development.
Governors’ coalition: FERC PJM capacity market order went too far. The Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition on Wednesday urged the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to abandon its plan to revamp the capacity market in PJM Interconnection to address the effects of state-subsidized energy resources, saying FERC is overstepping its authority. “If the commission preempts or restricts the states’ ability to regulate environmental effects from energy power production, it would constitute a dangerous shift in the balance between state and federal authority,” said the coalition, which includes governors from 19 states.
Four U.S. states with 30-plus percent wind power. Four U.S. states generated 30 to 37 percent of their energy from wind power in 2017. That’s just one of the findings of the Department of Energy’s annual Wind Technologies Market Report, released August 22. Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota were the leaders in terms of how much wind contributed to their state’s overall electricity generation, but 14 states got more than 10 percent of their in-state energy from wind power last year. Texas took the lead in added wind capacity, installing 2,305 megawatts worth.
Report shows North Dakota as leading state for wind energy. New figures from the U.S. Department of Energy show North Dakota as a leading state for wind energy development. North Dakota added 249 megawatts of wind capacity in 2017, ranking eighth in the nation, according to the department’s 2017 Wind Technologies Market Report released last week. The state had a total of 2,996 megawatts of wind capacity at the end of 2017, the report said, making North Dakota 11th in the country for the total amount of wind capacity installed. Wind producers have been using more powerful turbines with longer blades that enhance their capacity, said Alex Fitzsimmons, chief of staff for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the Department of Energy. “We expect to see continued growth in wind energy nationwide, including in North Dakota,” Fitzsimmons said.
Central Washington utility district raises cryptocurrency power rates. Electricity rates for cryptocurrency miners and other evolving-industry firms will increase 15 percent next year, 35 percent in 2020 and 50 percent in 2021 in Grant County. The new Rate 17, adopted Aug. 28 by Grant County Public Utility District commissioners, is designed to charge those customers more than the cost of production to protect the PUD from risk and preserve below-cost rates for core customers such as residents, small businesses and farm irrigators. Other big power users already pay rates that are above the cost of production. Adoption of the new rates follows nearly a year of analysis and public comment. “Your industry is unregulated and high-risk. This is the best way to ensure our ratepayers are not impacted,” Commissioner Tom Flint told a handful of cryptocurrency miners who attended the meeting.
Kentucky PSC denies KU and LG&E bid to deploy smart meters. Commission says utilities provided insufficient evidence to justify expense. The Kentucky Public Service Commission has rejected a proposal by the Kentucky Utilities Co. and Louisville Gas & Electric. Co. to deploy advanced “smart” meters and associated technology throughout their systems. In an order issued Thursday, the PSC stated that, although it “sees benefits in advanced metering,” the two utilities had “failed to provide sufficient evidence to persuade us that the … benefits of the AMS (Advanced Metering System) proposal outweigh the costs here.” The KU/LG&E application was denied without prejudice, meaning that the utilities may submit a similar plan in the future.
Two roads diverging: Pennsylvania lawmakers rethink their renewables mandate. Policymakers are making decisions on how to change the state’s alternative energy portfolio standards by 2021, causing a tension between utilities and distributed solar activists. Pennsylvania leaders have big choices to make about the state’s energy and solar future that will impact its power sector for the next decade. Policymakers must choose how to change the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, which now requires 18 percent alternative energy by 2021. And, if they replace the AEPS’ 0.5 percent carve out, they must choose whether to include 90 percent utility-scale solar or 35 percent distributed solar. At the end of 2017, Pennsylvania was at 0.2 percent solar. A draft plan for 10 percent solar by 2030 was released in July. Its choice of a largely utility-scale solar carve out, or one that includes over one-third distributed solar, has already started a classic solar debate between utilities and distributed solar advocates. “Pennsylvania is working on the energy sector’s next generation and solar should be key,” said Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which hosted the stakeholder-led process that produced the plan. “With its low installed price continuing to drop, solar must be a bigger part of our energy mix to keep us competitive with surrounding states.”
Seattle mayor names Oregonian as choice for new City Light boss. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Debra Smith as her nominee Tuesday for the next CEO and general manager of Seattle City Light, describing Smith as the right leader to improve City Light’s workplace culture, customer service and long-term planning despite coming from a much smaller utility. Smith has served since 2013 as CEO and general manager of the Central Lincoln People’s Utility District, which provides electricity on Oregon’s central coast. She previously spent more than 17 years in various roles at the Eugene Water and Electric Board, also a public utility in Oregon. The nominee has long hoped to join City Light, she said. “This is the big-time right here,” Smith said during a news conference, standing beside one of the utility’s signature yellow service trucks.
Nest and OhmConnect partner to bring grid-responsive smart thermostats to scale. A “Works With Nest” partnership targets PG&E territory to scale up the company’s unusual approach to third-party residential demand response. Nest, the Google-owned smart thermostat and home automation vendor, has deployed more than 11 million devices to date, and it has linked up hundreds of thousands of those device customers in utility energy efficiency and demand response programs. It’s also inked a lot of “Works With Nest” partnerships — integrations with various brands of smart door locks, security cameras, networked lights, smart appliances, smart speakers, and of course, different apps for its home networking ecosystem, now officially part of Google Home. But Google’s latest Works With Nest partnership with San Francisco-based startup OhmConnect is a little bit different, according to Jeff Hamel, director of energy partnerships at Nest/Google. That’s because it’s the first time that Nest has worked with a partner to break into a demand response market opportunity that’s not based on participating in a utility program. Instead, it will go through OhmConnect. Nest will be tapping into OhmConnect’s growing roster of customers getting paid to turn down household energy use to help reduce grid peaks. In April, the startup revealed that it had more than 300,000 customers, the vast majority in California, representing a combined 100 megawatts of load reduction capacity.
Johnny Rockets selects ENGIE Insight to help drive sustainable business results. Restaurant franchise embraces data analytics to lower costs and mitigate environmental footprint. ENGIE Insight has been selected by The Johnny Rockets Group to provide strategic utility expense data management and advisory solutions. According to the Energy Information Administration, restaurants are the most energy-intensive commercial building type in the U.S., consuming three times the energy of the average commercial building per square foot. To identify opportunities for increased resource efficiencies and reduce bill complexity, ENGIE Insight will analyze Johnny Rockets’ resource consumption data, centralize data inputs, advise on energy procurement efforts and develop informed resource management action plans. “We look forward working with Johnny Rockets, providing its corporate locations with our unique mix of data analytics technology and credible expertise to lower resource costs and achieve sustainable business outcomes,” said Martin Sieh, chief operating officer at ENGIE Insight.
Choose Energy offers $3,000 in scholarships for renewable energy ideas. Deregulated energy marketplace Choose Energy, Inc. believes strongly that consumers should be educated about their energy choices. But its commitment to education goes deeper as well: The company is offering scholarships totaling $3,000 to help students pay for college. Choose Energy matches residential and commercial energy users in 15 deregulated states with top electricity and natural gas providers. In deregulated states, customers have their choice of competitive energy suppliers; but the power is still delivered by traditional utilities. Customers may search for plans by price, term length and the amount of renewable energy, among other factors. Students may win the Choose Energy scholarships by submitting the top essays on the benefits of renewable energy vs. “brown” energy, as evaluated by a panel of Choose Energy judges. Two scholarships – one for $2,000 and one for $1,000 – will be awarded. The contest is open to current college undergrads or current graduate students. Essays must be submitted by our online application by 11:59 p.m.October 31.
BlackRock voted to replace Tesla’s Musk with independent chairman. Funds run by BlackRock Inc voted in favor of a recent shareholder proposal that would have required Tesla to replace Elon Musk with an independent chairman. BlackRock-managed funds voted for a measure requiring the chairman be an independent director, according to BlackRock’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. The proposal, which was defeated, would not have affected Musk’s standing as Tesla’s chief executive officer. More than 86 million shares voted against the proposal at a shareholder meeting in June, while fewer than 17 million voted in favor, Tesla said. Some corporate governance activists call for the chairman and CEO roles to be split between two people to improve oversight, and the new filing revealed at least one major investor backed such changes at Tesla. BlackRock’s role in backing the proposal was not previously reported.
Opinion: Now would be the time for Apple to buy Tesla, and kick Musk out of the driver’s seat. The idea of a merger between Tesla Inc. and Apple Inc. has been floated for years as a way to get attention. Now, it may not be so ridiculous. Elon Musk has put an end to his idea to take Tesla TSLA private, but still has a tough road ahead to meet profitability and production projections, especially as Tesla handles expected investigations and lawsuits stemming from Musk’s ridiculous “funding secured” misadventure. Apple, meanwhile, has billions in cash to burn, manufacturing prowess, obvious interests in entering the car market and finding new form factors beyond the smartphone — and the pull to tell Musk his services are no longer needed. Apple has been quietly investing in its own troubled self-driving car project, called Project Titan, according to multiple published reports, and continues to hire engineers from Tesla, a practice Musk once mocked by calling Apple “the Tesla graveyard.” Tesla was much more charitable last week when asked about a recent spate of Apple hires from its ranks, however. Apple does have a lot more money than Tesla, which is running out of cash fast. It also has a chief executive in Tim Cook who knows about dealing with supply chains, mass manufacturing and all the other processes that sound easy when Musk describes them but are nearly impossible when Tesla attempts to perform them.
Warren Buffett: Apple investing in Tesla is a ‘very poor idea.’ It would be a “very poor idea” for Apple Inc. to invest in Tesla Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chief Executive and legendary investor Warren Buffett told Fox Business on Thursday. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has added to its Apple holdings recently, and Buffett told CNBC also on Thursday he had bought “just a little” more of Apple stock. When asked whether he’d support Apple buying Tesla, Buffett offered his support but was skeptical. “I’d support whatever Tim Cook does, but I think it’d be a very poor idea to get in the auto business,” Buffett said. Selling cars is “not an easy business,” with plenty of competition, no first-mover advantage, and you win one year and lose the next, he said. “It does not give you a permanent advantage,” Buffett said.
The giant UK coal plant converting to green energy. The UK plans to end coal-fired electricity by 2025. But what happens to the massive plants left behind? One facility is pioneering an unusual idea: converting to green energy. The Drax coal plant is the largest power plant in Western Europe. By 2023, its owners plan to stop burning coal entirely. They hope that instead their plant will consume only natural gas and biomass – wood pellets crushed into powder. The European Union has some key targets for reducing pollution in the coming decades and coal power plants have been earmarked for closure by many countries seeking to meet these objectives. In the UK, government plans mean coal-fired electricity generation will end by 2025. A similar story is unfolding elsewhere in the world. Many nations, including the U.S., are moving away from coal as other energies become cheaper and as environmental regulations cool the market for this fossil fuel. But this leaves a big question: what do we do with all of those old power stations?