While WV politicians stand around waiting for an ethane cracker, Appalachian Power CEO Charles Patton says that APCo will let WV's increased natural gas production pass WV by. Here is the story in this morning's Charleston Gazette.(Note that Gazette links die after one week.)
Once again, Mr. Patton identifies the source of WV's rising power rates: "Appalachian Power spent $38 a ton for coal in 2001. The company now pays $69 a ton, Patton said." Mr. Patton also revealed that only a little over half of the coal burned in APCo's power plants comes from WV: "Appalachian Power purchases 13 million tons of coal a year, and 7.4 million tons of that coal comes from West Virginia, he said."
Mr. Patton says that APCo is not interested in building any new gas-fired power plants in WV to lower rates because "West Virginia lacks larger 'interstate' pipelines to transport gas to power plants." What? New combined cycle natural gas plants can be scaled down economically to very small units that could be distributed all across WV, creating a much more reliable grid than our current centralized and obsolete "fleet" of massive coal burners.
But Mr. Patton only deals in "big." APCo plans to import gas-fired electricity from an Ohio gas plant near Columbus. That makes sense. APCo even has a model of the kind of gas plant we need located in Ceredo, WV. But they are using that plant only intermittently at peak power instead of integrating it into a new mixed source grid to fill in for intermittent wind and solar as is being done in more advanced countries.
So instead of putting West Virginians to work building new technologies and pipelines to maximize the use of our own resources, and to build a more reliable electrical grid, APCo is choosing to import electricity and will leave its coal-fired pollution to continue to contaminate our state.
It is also interesting to see that Mr. Patton's only solutions involve substituting one carbon fuel for another instead of instituting a bold energy efficiency and demand management program for WV. Interesting, but not surprising.