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Wyo business leaders seek glimpse of energy's future

This week, Wyoming business leaders gathered to ponder evidence, assertions and projections about Wyoming's future economy in an uncertain future ...The good news for Wyoming is that the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that coal will fill 82 percent of that portfolio, with uranium, hydro-electric and renewables filling in the rest.

It's not the climate change that worries most Wyomingites. It's the climate change policy .

A majority of Wyomingites -- 53 percent -- do not believe climate change is scientifically proven. So it's understandable why Wyoming business leaders might be worried about the state's fossil-fueled economy.

This week, Wyoming business leaders gathered to ponder evidence, assertions and projections about Wyoming's future economy in an uncertain future, including this statistic: The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by 2030 worldwide energy consumption could grow by 55 percent.

Whether that demand can or will be met with fossil fuels will be a big determining factor in Wyoming's economic future. This was the premise of a discussion Friday morning at the Wyoming Heritage Foundation's 26th annual forum in Casper.

Mark Doelger, chairman of the Wyoming Pipeline Authority, noted that energy demand in the United States is projected to grow by 19 percent during the same period. The good news for Wyoming is that the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that coal will fill 82 percent of that portfolio, with uranium, hydro-electric and renewables filling... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

It's not the climate change that worries most Wyomingites. It's the climate change policy .

A majority of Wyomingites -- 53 percent -- do not believe climate change is scientifically proven. So it's understandable why Wyoming business leaders might be worried about the state's fossil-fueled economy.

This week, Wyoming business leaders gathered to ponder evidence, assertions and projections about Wyoming's future economy in an uncertain future, including this statistic: The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by 2030 worldwide energy consumption could grow by 55 percent.

Whether that demand can or will be met with fossil fuels will be a big determining factor in Wyoming's economic future. This was the premise of a discussion Friday morning at the Wyoming Heritage Foundation's 26th annual forum in Casper.

Mark Doelger, chairman of the Wyoming Pipeline Authority, noted that energy demand in the United States is projected to grow by 19 percent during the same period. The good news for Wyoming is that the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that coal will fill 82 percent of that portfolio, with uranium, hydro-electric and renewables filling in the rest.

Wyoming's natural gas production grew from 4 billion cubic feet per day in 2002 to 6.5 Bcf today, said Doelger.

"So we are doing very well in Wyoming," he said..

The region consumes only 1 Bcf per day during mild weather and 2.5 Bcf per day when it gets really cold. So exports are vital to the industry and to state revenues in the Rockies.

"We really live on those markets outside of the Rockies," said Doelger.

Continued expansion of pipelines will play a key role in Wyoming's energy future. Currently, there are nine proposed pipeline expansions and new construction aimed at increasing natural gas exports from the Rockies. Wholesale prices here will likely remain depressed compared to the rest of the nation until major expansions are made.

Mike Easley, president of Powder River Energy Corp. and chairman of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority said an important question to ask is, "What's going to happen to the person at the end of the line?"

If a cap-and-trade, carbon tax or some other carbon cost were imposed on the industry today, PRECorp.'s average residential customer in northeast Wyoming would see his monthly bill go up from an average $75 to $85 (based on a carbon cost of $10 per ton), or an increase to $105 (if the carbon cost was $30 per ton).

The product and price menu for new electric generation technologies provides some distinct choices on cost, according to Easley.

-- A new pulverized coal (coal-fired) plant can be built at a cost of about $3,000 per kilowatt hour, which is in keeping with the $1.3 billion, 385-megawatt Dry Fork Station now under construction near Gillette.

-- Super-critical pulverized coal (which emits slightly less greenhouse gas than traditional pulverized coal) would cost about $4,500 per kilowatt hour.

-- Combination wind turbine and natural gas -- $4,800 per kilowatt hour.

-- Natural gas turbine -- $1,700 per kilowatt hour.

"Add the cost of CO2 capture on these and the cost goes up very, very fast," said Easley.

In northeast Wyoming, carbon regulation would also impact PRECorp's biggest electrical consumer; coal mines.

Powder River Energy Corp. provides about 400 megawatts of electricity across a five-county region in northeast Wyoming. Half of that power is consumed by coal mines in the Powder River Basin, and 37.5 percent powers the coal-bed methane gas industry.

Easley said the average coal mine in the Powder River Basin uses about 7.3 million kilowatt hours in a month, for a cost of $230,000. If the cost of CO2 is $10 per ton, the average mine's bill would go up by $73,000. If the cost is $30 per ton, the monthly bill goes up by $219,000.

Rob Hurless, energy and telecommunications advisor to Gov. Dave Freudthenal, said meeting a 55 percent increase in world energy consumption by 2030 will require a build-out of all energy resources.

"The issue is, 'Can we meet the demand?' Not whether coal will be a part of it," said Hurless. It will.

Hurless said talk about a massive build-out of nuclear power plants may be overly hopeful. Currently, there are only two facilities on the planet that manufacture pressure vessels for nuclear reactors, and those have waiting lists of nine years or more for new orders.

The specialized, skilled labor required to build a nuclear power plant is so limited, currently, that industry experts believe only one nuclear power plant could be built at a time in the U.S.

"So labor is the hidden thing that's going to bite us," said Hurless.

Donna Witchers, senior president of Uranium One, said it will take all sources of energy to meet increasing energy demands -- predominantly coal. But nuclear energy will likely provide an increased percentage of the world's energy portfolio.

Currently, the U.S. gets 19.4 percent of its electricity from 104 nuclear power reactors. There are 430 nuclear power reactors in the world, and another 348 reactors planned, proposed or under construction -- 110 of those are in China.


Source: http://casperstartribune.ne...

NOV 21 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/18027-wyo-business-leaders-seek-glimpse-of-energy-s-future
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