Volume 5, Issue 34
Welcome to our last Currents issue of 2021. As we all know, this year has brought us many issues to work through, and we anticipate 2022 to be much of the same. Our goal is to make sure these publications provide you with timely and relevant information. And, we want to make sure we are hitting the mark.

Please let either of us know your thoughts as we plan for the next year. Is a bi-weekly publication often enough? Too often? Are we covering the topics you want to see? Would you like more in-depth articles? Email us and let us know.

We wish you a wonderful holiday, a prosperous new year, and we hope you enjoy reading.
Co-Editor, Currents
Co-Editor, Currents
"West Virginia is most dependent on coal for electricity and among the least dependent on renewables."

Why this is important: As renewables increasingly produce America’s electrical power, West Virginia has resisted those national plans. While coal-fired electrical generation is about 19.3 percent nationally, it is more than 89 percent in West Virginia. Coincidentally, West Virginia is the third largest coal mining state. It also has one of the lowest levels of renewable electric generation at 6.2 percent. Nationally, the states that produce the most coal, burn the most for electrical generation as it’s the cheapest fuel source. Time will tell if renewables begin making a bigger impact in West Virginia, but WV Senator Joe Manchin recently supported the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER program, which targets federal resources to help communities and regions affected by job losses in coal mining and coal power plant operations in the changing energy sector. --- Mark E. Heath
"Capito has criticized President Joe Biden and federal agencies for pursuing its agenda regarding climate change, arguing the administration’s steps will affect energy affordability and electric reliability."

Why this is important: There is misperception that West Virginia, and the Appalachian region, is fixated on coal for power generation. In fact, there is growing support for nuclear energy as a source of electricity in the Mountain State, as evidenced by Sen. Capito's statements and anticipated efforts in the 2022 West Virginia Legislature to encourage nuclear power development. --- David L. Yaussy
"Coal producers are trying to ramp up production as quickly as they can, but it’s not as simple as just flipping a switch."

Why this is important: While U.S. coal prices are at their highest in 10 years, stockpiles at coal-fired electrical generation plants are at the lowest levels since the 1970s. Higher natural gas prices have led to a significant rebound in coal-fired electric generation as coal is now a cheaper fuel source. But, the demand comes as cheap gas prices led electric utilities to drop stockpiles and not contract to purchase coal for primary generation. The demand has led to significant increases in steam coal prices that are continuing based on demand, but U.S. producers have not been able to add production to fully take advantage of higher prices due to a shortage of trained miners and financial restrictions to add new mines. Some believe private equity firms may start providing funds to open new mines to take advantage of higher prices that will last through 2022. It remains to be seen if there will be workers for new mines. --- Mark E. Heath
"The agreement between the Anschutz Corp.'s affiliated subsidiaries is another milestone for the $3 billion transmission project that could provide the Southwest with low-cost wind energy, diversifying the West's power supplies and facilitating power markets."

Why this is important: The wind blows more steadily and provides more regular power on the Great Plains, but that's far from urban centers in the east and west. Transmission is needed to carry electricity long distances to larger markets. This long-range transmission line, if built, would bring wind power from Colorado to Nevada, where it could be available to the Southern California market. --- David L. Yaussy
"The government said it will not support coal power plants unless carbon capture technologies are implemented."

Why this is important: The U.S. government has announced it will stop funding overseas coal-fired power projects unless they include significant carbon capture. The change is apparently designed to move toward a net-zero CO2 goal worldwide and a U.S. commitment to stop the public financing of ‘unabated’ coal power. U.S. embassies have been told oil and gas projects may continue if they significantly advance national security interests. In July 2021, Japan announced a similar ban on coal-fired power projects worldwide. --- Mark E. Heath
"China is set to be the main driver of renewable capacity growth in the coming years, according to the IEA."

Why this is important: More and more wind and solar electricity generation is being proposed to match ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. Most of proposed generating capacity is in the form of renewables, but electricity represents only about a third of overall energy. Reducing fossil fuel usage in manufacturing, home heating and transportation will be much more difficult. Even with new renewable projects coming on board, reducing overall fossil fuel usage to near zero by 2050 is unlikely, given current trends. --- David L. Yaussy
EIA Energy Statistics
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