12 WV county economies vulnerable to power plant retirements - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

12 WV county economies vulnerable to power plant retirements

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  • 13 County Coalitions Come Together To Prevent Substance Abuse

    13 County Coalitions Come Together To Prevent Substance Abuse

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:00:20 GMT
    It was all about celebrating recovery at the Clarksburg Baptist Church Tuesday evening .Coalition programs from thirteen different counties came together with some local officials to talk about the importance of preventing substance abuse.
    It was all about celebrating recovery at the Clarksburg Baptist Church Tuesday evening .Coalition programs from thirteen different counties came together with some local officials to talk about the importance of preventing substance abuse.
  • Volunteers Spruce Up Bridgeport Lakes With 'Community Clean Up Day'

    Volunteers Spruce Up Bridgeport Lakes With 'Community Clean Up Day'

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 11:35 PM EDT2014-04-23 03:35:46 GMT
    Tuesday turned out to be a beautiful evening for dozens of Bridgeport residents, who came out in support of Earth Day to spruce up Hinkle and Deegan Lakes.
    Tuesday turned out to be a beautiful evening for dozens of Bridgeport residents, who came out in support of Earth Day to spruce up Hinkle and Deegan Lakes.
  • Senator Rockefeller and Ted Koppel Host a Fireside Chat at WV Wesleyan

    Senator Rockefeller and Ted Koppel Host a Fireside Chat at WV Wesleyan

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:40 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:40:43 GMT
    It was a celebratory day at West Virginia Wesleyan College as Senator Jay Rockefeller returned to campus for the first time in nearly eight years in an event with journalist Ted Koppel. 
    It was a celebratory day at West Virginia Wesleyan College as Senator Jay Rockefeller returned to campus for the first time in nearly eight years in an event with journalist Ted Koppel. 
  • EnergyEnergyMore>>

  • Marshall Co. makes plans for natural gas combined cycle power plant

    Marshall Co. makes plans for natural gas combined cycle power plant

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:42 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:42:40 GMT
    The project still needs to obtain state and federal approvals to develop and build the plant, but organizers anticipate construction to begin in 2015 and operations to begin by 2018.
    The project still needs to obtain state and federal approvals to develop and build the plant, but organizers anticipate construction to begin in 2015 and operations to begin by 2018.
  • WV DEP Lifts Cease Operations Order to Antero at Harrison, Doddridge Sites

    WV DEP Lifts Cease Operations Order to Antero at Harrison, Doddridge Sites

    Monday, April 21 2014 1:00 PM EDT2014-04-21 17:00:50 GMT
    The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of Oil and Gas have issued violation notices to Antero Resources.
    The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of Oil and Gas have issued violation notices to Antero Resources.
  • Fracking foes cringe as unions back drilling boom

    Fracking foes cringe as unions back drilling boom

    Monday, April 21 2014 8:51 AM EDT2014-04-21 12:51:19 GMT
    After early complaints that out-of-state firms got the most jobs, some local construction trade workers and union members in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia say they're now benefiting in a big way from the Marcellus and Utica Shale oil and gas boom.That vocal support from blue-collar workers complicates efforts by environmentalists to limit the drilling process known as fracking.
    After early complaints that out-of-state firms got the most jobs, some local construction trade workers and union members in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia say they're now benefiting in a big way from the Marcellus and Utica Shale oil and gas boom.That vocal support from blue-collar workers complicates efforts by environmentalists to limit the drilling process known as fracking.

The coal-mining economies of five counties in southern West Virginia are moderately vulnerable to market and regulatory influences and to future declines in demand, according to a new report by a Morgantown consulting firm.

The report by Downstream Strategies lists Boone, Kanawha, Lincoln, Nicholas and Mingo as particularly vulnerable to changes in the power industry, with Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, McDowell, Raleigh, Wayne and Wyoming being listed as marginally vulnerable and Logan and Mercer as not immediately vulnerable.

The Central Appalachian counties most vulnerable to change in the industry were Pike, Knott and Letcher in Kentucky and Wise in Virginia.

The report, which was released Monday, is an update of a similar report Downstream Strategies issued in 2010. It examined the state of the industry in 14 counties in West Virginia, 18 in Kentucky, six in Virginia and three in Tennessee.

"Since we released our 2010 report, the decline of the region's coal industry has been publicly acknowledged by both industry leaders and state policymakers," Evan Hansen, president of Downstream Strategies, said in a statement accompanying the release of the report.

"Our new report illustrates how the industry's many challenges will likely lead to even lower production levels in the future."

The report analyzes market trends impacting Central Appalachian coal demand, including the national economy; regional coal prices and labor productivity; competition in electricity markets from other coal basins, natural gas, and renewable energy; demand among other domestic coal markets, including the manufacturing and industrial sectors; and foreign markets for Central Appalachian coal.

"Numerous factors influence demand for Central Appalachian coal, each of which has had—and will continue to have—a significant impact on the local economies where the coal is mined," said Rory McIlmoil, the lead author of the report. "In 2010, we recommended that state and local leaders take immediate steps to help diversify coalfield economies. To a large extent, that has not happened. However, it is vital that public officials begin making the political and financial investments necessary to build the foundation for new economic development opportunities in coal-producing counties."

 The 140-page report detailed 13 principal findings:

  • Central Appalachian coal production has declined significantly in recent years and will continue to decline.
  • Underground mining has declined substantially, and surface and underground mining now produce approximately the same amount of Central Appalachian coal.
  • Labor productivity has declined virtually every year since 2000.
  • Employment and tax trends will not necessarily follow production trends.
  • Met coal exports have had a substantial impact on regional coal demand.
  • Coal-fired power plants are the most important purchasers of Central Appalachian coal.
  • Average mine prices and transportation costs for Central Appalachian coal are the highest among the four major coal basins.
  • Demand for Central Appalachian coal by the electricity sector "dropped precipitously" from 2006 to 2011.
  • A number of new federal regulations have been proposed or implemented recently that will likely have a general impact on demand for coal as a source of fuel for electricity generation, or on the mining of coal.
  • Central Appalachian coal production is already being impacted by coal plant retirements and fuel switching.
  • The region will be impacted significantly as plants that burn Central Appalachian coal retire.
  • The Central Appalachian basin is also vulnerable to plants that have installed emission controls or that can switch to burning natural gas.
  • Central Appalachian counties are vulnerable to different degrees.

According to the report, about 43.89 million tons of coal produced in southern West Virginia was used in power plants in 2011. In Kentucky, the amount was 49.65 million tons; 8.9 million in Virginia and 1.07 million in Tennessee.