Front Porch Blog

Mountain Mondays: Coal pulls a “Gas Prices”

Over the last year, we’ve seen the price of Appalachian coal nearly triple. In 2007, Appalachian coal prices hit a low of around $40/ton on the spot market. But last month, at the end of July 2008, we saw Appalachian coal hit $150/ton.

With regional coal production in a long-term decline, we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the upcoming months and years.

AEP needs to hike Ohio rates 45% over 3 years
COLUMBUS, Ohio – American Electric Power said Thursday it must raise electricity rates 45 percent for its nearly 1.5 million customers in Ohio over the next three years, to cover soaring coal prices and the cost of modernizing its systems to keep them reliable.

TheGreenMiles over at RaisingKaine, a progressive Virginia blog, says:

That 18 percent rate hike Dominion just got approved? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

From EnergyCentral in Kentucky, we hear similar news:

On Wednesday, TVA Chief Executive Officer and President Tom Kilgore said that rising production costs will drive up the price it charges local distributors for that power. TVA is allowed to make such fuel cost adjustments quarterly, and this one could increase individual bills by 10 percent to 20 percent, Kilgore said. A 15 percent boost would be TVA’s biggest rate jump since 1977.

That means an extra $12 to $25 charge per month for the average household, he said. Local utilities expect to pass that increase directly on to their customers.

And with production declining, and renewable energy becoming more cost competitive, we may soon see states who hope to protect their consumers begin to invest in conservation, efficiency, and real renewable energy in a serious way.

1. This weeks featured blogs…
David Roberts expands on the topic of coal prices over at Grist

fter gas prices, electricity bills are probably the most salient energy price indicator for average folk (albeit a distant second), so the current gas price hullabaloo offers a decent preview of what we can expect.

There will be outrage. There will be demands for increased mining. (Mine here! Mine now!) There will be Republican demagoguery on behalf of coal companies (and as a bonus, coal-state Democratic demagoguery too). There will be promises that coal mining and burning aren’t like they used to be, because these days super shiny technology makes them clean. There will be expert testimony saying that coal prices are rising because of structural economic forces that won’t be affected by an uptick in mining; that testimony will be disregarded by the demagogues. Greens and their legislative friends will push back with a scattered, incoherent message that involves half capitulation to mining and half boosterism of alternatives.

How will it all shake out?

Well, let’s wait and see how the gas-price thing goes. That will tell us a lot.


Climate Progress points out some of the dangersof continuing our current polices by looking at McCain’s pros and cons (their take is mostly cons on energy.

And at all the small things we learn about a Wendell Berry facebook group, which I fully endorse:

For those who enjoy the work of the farmer-poet, Wendell Berry, and/or agree that we are steadily losing a part of what makes us human in our rush to embrace technology and uber-industrialism. For those that retain agrarian values in the face of mass development and rampant consumerism.





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