Coal Possible Solution To Texas' Growing Energy Needs

AUSTIN (January 9, 2008) – Noting the state's population and economic growth in relation to the state's available power and energy resources, NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett today told attendees at the Texas Public Policy Foundation's 6th Annual Policy Orientation for the Texas Legislature that Texas needs more power capacity for both peak-time and normal operations. Speaking on a panel about the state's energy needs, Burnett said coal may provide the solution.

"Absent new supplies, Texan's could face even higher prices and periodic, increasingly frequent outages," says Burnett.  "While there are several possible fuel sources for generating baseload power, coal is the least expensive source of reliable power that can be brought to market in the short-term.

"More than anything, people want reliability in their power supplies — coal-fired power plants supply this by the train load.  Their second biggest concern is price. This is a real issue in Texas where we get a larger percentage of our electricity on average from natural gas.  Coal fired power plants both lower costs (for both electricity and natural gas), and add fuel diversity.

"Our air quality is steadily improving. If we must wait to build new coal plants until carbon capture technology is available, many citizens will be sitting in the dark, melting on hot days, or paying through the nose as electric prices skyrocket," warned Burnett.  "For the short-term, coal is the only reliable option for low cost energy that can power the Texas economy."

Burnett expands on his comments in a paper that will be released following the Orientation, Power for the Future: The Debate Over New Coal-Fired Power Plants in Texas.  This paper examines the continuing success Texas has achieved in cleaning up its air and how we can move forward to meet our energy needs with affordable, reliable electricity while improving on these gains.