RW Beck Study

The much anticipated "Review of the Proposed Highwood Generating Station" is out. I don't want to write too much until I have a chance to read the whole thing, an eventuality that will not likely occur before this Sunday evening due to prior committments.

I have to be careful, too, not to simply sieze on every potentially negative nugget and scream about it. I keep reminding myself: I am not against the coal plant, I am against the process. Thus, while I will discuss some negatives, my initial understanding is that the Review is not entirely negative.

With that said, one little point did jump out at me during my initial review. In the Review at p.7, one can find the following disclaimer:

With respect to potential future carbon dioxide regulations, the specific impacts to the project cannot be determined at this time due to the lack of specificity on the
future regulations and evolving policy debate. However, future carbon dioxide regulations will likely occur and will increase the cost from the Project. In addition, he wholesale market prices for energy in the Pacific Northwest will also increase due to the future regulations. While carbon dioxide emissions from gasfired facilities are less than carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired facilities, both types of plants will be impacted by the future regulations. Since gas fired generation is often the generation type that sets wholesale market prices (now and in the foreseeable future), such future regulation impact on natural gas fired generation is expected to cause market prices to rise.

In other words, it is "likely" that we will face a CO2 tax in the future. (By the way, search the ECP minutes for "Ken Thornton; he has raised this issue at virtually every meeting that has occurred.) While RW Beck put a positive spin on the likelihood of this tax, it is interesting that they specifically 'exempted' from their opinion. ("cannot be determined at this time due to the lack of specificity on the future regulations and evolving policy debate.")

Contrast this with the Pollyanna opinion of our 'experts':

Is there anything that could rear up in the near future and bite the city, such as a federal ban or cap on more coal plants?

Balzarini said she does not see any such "show stopper" on the horizon. "I don't," she said. Lawton said coal won't be going away as quickly as some people assume. "Coal is going to be part of the solution for the next 40 years or so," he said. "Coal has to be cleaned up, which we're doing."

Who do YOU believe?

No comments: