North Carolina has 67 operating coal-fired power units at 25 locations totaling 13,279 megawatts (MW).
A Shocking History of North Carolina's Coal Plants
Coal-fired power plants produced about 62 percent of the electricity generated in North Carolina. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projects this amount to be 67 percent by 2010.
North Carolina produces a disproportionately large amount of carbon dioxide, in large part because of the state’s numerous coal plants, and ranks 14th in the nation in CO2 emissions. The state produces 77 million tons of CO2 every year, an amount only slightly less than California’s 79 million tons, despite the fact that North Carolina’s population is one quarter the size of California.
|One of Duke Energy Coal Ash Spills|
North Carolina-based Duke Energy is planning an 800MW expansion at its Cliffside plant that would emit an additional 6.25 million tons of CO2 per year. Duke Energy is the nation’s third largest producer of carbon dioxide, emitting 108 million tons of CO2 per year, despite CEO Jim Rogers’ public calls for federal legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Duke’s eight plants in North Carolina produce 41 million tons of CO2 each year, more than half of the state’s total yearly carbon dioxide emissions.
In May 2010 the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report titled, Burning Coal, Burning Cash: Ranking the States that Import the Most Coal. In the paper the group reported that North Carolina was the second most coal dependent state in the country, spending $2.3 billion on coal imports in 2008.
Cost of Coal Compared to Other Fuels
Fuel Cost Btu Content $/MMBTU
Wood Chips $34/ton 5,000 Btu/lb $4.25
Switchgrass $60/ton 7,500 Btu/lb $5.00
Coal $120/ton 25 MMBtu/ton $6.00
Oil $2.50/gal 140 MBtu/gal $22.32
Natural Gas $1.25/therm 100 MBtu/therm $15.63
• A native, warm season grass
• Requires minimal fertilizer and water
• Can grow on marginally productive land
• Harvest with traditional agricultural equipment
• Switchgrass will yield 3-4 tons per acre
• Low density, benefits to densifying
• Immature market: Harvesting would create jobs for decent people
- Is the cleanest fuel next to hydrogen
- Requires drilling and fracking
- Failing gas pipe infrastructure
- Natural gas is highly explosive
- Can be burned far more cleanly than coal.
- Not renewable
- Causes major environmental disasters
- Drilling and refining is dangerous
- Can be burned cleanly
- Not enough trees to meet demand
- Coal mining harms the environment and kills the miners.
- Coal ash kills
- Fly ash from coal kills
- Coal cannot be burned cleanly
- Coal plants increase cancer rates
- Coal plants cause many diseases in children
- Coal stinks