Pennsylvania's Shift From Coal To Gas Power

  • Scott Detrow

The Post-Gazette examines Pennsylvania’s ongoing shift from coal to natural gas-fired power plants, and raises some questions:

According to power industry data, electricity from burning natural gas increased from 12.8 percent of the total generated in June 2011 to 19.1 percent in June 2012, in the PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization that coordinates wholesale electricity distribution for 60 million people in the District of Columbia and 13 mid-Atlantic states, including Pennsylvania.
Electricity from coal burning decreased from 47.4 percent to 40 percent during the same one-year period.
But Doug Biden, executive director of the Electric Power Generation Association, an industry lobbying organization in Harrisburg, cautioned against counting on all of the planned gas-fired projects now in the development pipeline.
“Just because they’ve applied for a permit doesn’t mean those plants will be built,” Mr. Biden said. “The companies get into the permitting line because it’s a time-consuming process, but, historically, only about 30 percent of what’s in those construction queues gets built. And unless there is a serious uptick in [coal-fired] retirements, I doubt we’ll see all of those on the current permit list.”

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