The proposed energy solution discussed in my January 13, 2010 blog is gaining more credibility. Witness the course Progress Energy (formed in 2000 by Carolina Power & Light and Florida Progress) is taking. Late last year, the company announced it would close 11 coal-fired plants by 2017, representing 30% of its coal-powered electrical generation in North Carolina. The company also announced plans to spend $900 million to build a natural gas-fueled generation facility rather than spend $330 million cleaning up emissions from a 397 MW coal generating plant. In the next two years, Progress Energy is also looking to spend somewhere in the range of $1.4 - 2.1 billion for initial work to build two nuclear generating units in North Carolina and another two in Florida, enabling it to shut down even more coal-fired units. The company is clearly focusing now on shifting to nuclear and natural gas-fired plants.
AEP, one of the largest electric utilities in the country which generates about 75% of its electricity from coal, is also making changes to reduce its dependency on coal. AEP owns 5,000 MW of coal plants that are 40 years old and older, plants that would be too costly to retrofit to meet carbon capture requirements. By approximately 2013, AEP expects to add 4,790 MW of natural gas generation and 2,200 MW of wind capacity. AEP management has indicated that they will not propose another coal-fired plant until a commercially viable answer exists for carbon capturing and storage.
In the near-term, the energy solution staring us in the face to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is moving heavily into natural gas for power generation, while at the same time aggressively promoting energy conservation and efficiency and the use of renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar. In this same period to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our dependency on foreign oil, motor vehicles need to become much more energy efficient and a significant shift to alternative vehicle power systems such as hybrid electric or natural gas must take place. It all seems so obvious!