“Repowering” Power Plants: Energizes the people or the environment?

12.01.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Throughout the United States there are many coal-fired power plants that work to provide power to communities. However, when is it time to shut down a plant? How can a plant be modified? What implications come from changing or closing a plant? Do plants contribute to society more than hurting the environment? These questions have the ability to spark debates and court battles about power plants as whole. People have been working to figure out what should be done to keep an established facility running, while other look to find way to end them completely.

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New York has taken the initiative to create “repowering” projects. These projects work to restart coal-fired plants with natural gas. This switch has been popular in other parts of the country, and “In the past four years, at least 29 coal units in 10 states have switched to natural gas or biomass” (Nunez). The switch would create about 12,000 megawatts of power to be used by the plants. This amount is capable to power all houses in New England for a whole year. Additionally, natural gas is priced fairly low in the United States, due to the large supply, which would benefit the plant operators.

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However, in New York there are also many people who disagree with this potential change. It is believed that changing the plants will create a mindset that promotes pollution created by the plants. It has been said that one specific plant, of three to change, will be targeted by a lawsuit of $150 million. This hefty lawsuit is caused because “repowering will force the state’s energy consumers to pay for an unnecessary facility” (Nunez). Moreover, it is believed that this specific plant, Dunkirk plant in western New York, embodies the precedent that polluting  and outdated plants are being run for only political reasons.

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Dunkirk Power Plant

These different opinions create the struggle of how to manage and possibly change the plants. People have gone to court many times in history to see which side of the argument will come out victorious, however it is still hard to say what the best option is for the nation. Power is necessary in society, yet keeping the environment healthy is also important. Finding a way to have efficiently run plants would be more than helpful, as well as beneficial to the people as whole.

Works Cited: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/11/141120-coal-plants-repowered-with-natural-gas/

Caitlin Maloney

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