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We Will Regret Closing Down our Reliable Coal Plants

Posted on Monday, October 10, 2022
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AMAC Exclusive – By Luke Allen

Sometimes we can spend so much time at a place that it seems alive. That’s certainly how I felt when it came to the Joppa Generating Station in southern Illinois, a coal-fired power plant that I worked at as the station chemist for 23 years. Earlier this year, I stood aghast and watched my old friend, a reliable titan of the energy industry, breathe her last – destroyed by the Sierra Club, regulators driven by misguided ideology, and greedy executives who saw an opportunity to leverage that ideology to force Americans into one of the most radical and costly economic transformations in world history; the change from reliable low cost fossil fuels to unreliable high cost wind and solar.  

During my two decades at Joppa, my crew and I monitored her boiler water and steam chemistry like a physician does a patient’s blood. I personally climbed over her turbines and into her boiler components any time maintenance was performed, checking for any hint of poor health. I was a small cog in a larger machine of workers who kept her running at almost full capacity, in every kind of weather, for 62 years.

Joppa delivered cheap, reliable, and safe electricity to tens of thousands of families from the time she was commissioned in 1956. The longer I worked there, the more I was amazed by the feat of engineering she represented – the visionaries who designed the plant still used slide-rules, and drew up the plans by hand.

In the early 1950s, the Department of Defense (DOD) summoned the CEOs of several utilities, normally fierce competitors, to Washington, D.C. DOD officials convinced these men that, since the Cold War was in full swing, they should work together to build the generating station. The new power plant’s purpose would be to supply the massive amounts of electricity needed for a Uranium Enrichment plant being built simultaneously across the river in Paducah, Kentucky, to support the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The plant would be the largest in the United States at that time and would be designed to military specifications for toughness and reliability. Notwithstanding that in the coming decades her size would be surpassed by newer plants, Joppa’s reliability was rarely exceeded.

American steel, two inches thick in some places, made up her core. She had mechanical design features that had been perfected in WWII and that would operate almost continually for half a century. Yet, she was flexible. Over her life, her caretakers changed the fuel she used and the way it was burned, among many other features, to make her compliant with the never-ending onslaught of environmental regulations.

Local news stories decried the lost jobs that would result from her closing, but that’s a fraction of the price that will now be paid. As recent experience in California and Texas, as well as in Europe, has already demonstrated, the rapid reduction in the number of coal-fueled plants threatens the reliability of electricity supplies, threatening millions with blackouts. In contrast, coal-fired plants, with their on-site, 90-day supply of fuel, operate in the coldest polar vortex or the most intense heat wave. The death of the Joppa Generating Station, and the deaths of dozens of other coal plants, will be felt by the nation when rolling blackouts soon become the norm if the Biden administration’s suicidal green energy policies are not soon reversed.

As I have described, this hulking titan of steel became a living thing to those of us who fought alongside her to provide energy twenty-four hours a day.

I battled cancer in 2020 and an odd result of the massive amounts of chemotherapy I was given was that I didn’t dream. For almost 9 months, I never had a dream, except for one night. Though I’d been away from the plant for a few years by then, that night I dreamed of her.

Many of us were out on the turbine deck, working as a team to handle some emergency that threatened to shut down the plant. In my dream state omniscience, I knew the solution to the problem. We were a beehive of activity, a well-oiled machine. Then I turned to grab the arm of a member of my crew, to shout something to him over the roar of machinery, but he wasn’t there. Suddenly, no one was there. In an instant, the plant was empty. All the machinery had gone silent, the radiant heat that had been coming from the boilers was gone, replaced by a penetrating cold.

I had the overwhelming feeling that the plant would never operate again. Then, I looked far down the length of the plant, there was a light there, shining down on something. I walked toward it, and when I drew close, I realized it was a guy that had been in my crew. He was lying dead in his coffin, wearing a Green Bay Packers jacket – me and the rest of the guys had chipped in and gotten it for his retirement gift. That image wasn’t only the dream, I’d seen it in real life when I’d given his eulogy almost a decade prior to that night. I still don’t have an interpretation. But I now understand that the experience of a job well done for over 23 years, along with the camaraderie of dear coworkers and in the midst of an engineering marvel, weaves itself into the fabric of one’s being.

The steam is stopped. A titan is departed. The colossal generating plant no longer produces life-saving energy. She never quit, never faltered. She’d have happily gone on for a couple more decades. Instead, she was sacrificed on the altar of wokeness, another victim of the far-left’s war on fossil fuels and America’s future that could soon leave us all in the dark.

Luke Allen is a former chemist, speechwriter, and energy policy advisor.

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lyn
lyn
1 year ago

Oil is not and never was a fossil fuel, that lie was used to bring about what we presently see, the push for ‘clean energy’ and ‘green energy’. newhumannewearthcommunities.com/what-is-hidden-is-reveled/oil-is-not-a-fossil-fuel-the-real-science-of-abiotic-oil-and-serpentinization

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

We need New plants IE
Thorium Reactors
Molten Salt Reactors
Energy Storage
Hybrid plants
Batteries

More can be done

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

For CA is No Energy=No EVs

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

We seem committed as a nation to following the same ruinous path as our European neighbors across the ocean. We see daily news reports, at least some of us do anyway, of the worsening energy and economic situation as Europe heads into winter with inadequate means to either power their economies or keep their citizens from potentially freezing to death in significant numbers. Reports are regularly flowing from Germany, Italy, France, Spain and elsewhere over there of businesses either cutting back hours of operation or planning to shutdown altogether due to lack of reliable electricity. People are chopping down sections of national forests over there for firewood, because they can no longer afford to pay their utility bills and eat at the same time. How much more proof does the American public need to see that the so-called “green agenda” doesn’t work? We are getting a real-time glimpse of the future that this country will soon be experiencing and yet the American people seem willing to tolerate the same ruinous energy policies being applied to our economy. I guess a lot of the American people need to literally experience these same conditions first hand. Of course by then, most of the coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants will have already been shutdown and decommissioned. So no fast turnaround to restoring our electrical needs.

On a positive note, if you can call it that, China isn’t falling into this trap. They continue to build one new coal power plant each and every week like clock work. They are also building over a 100 new nuclear power plants over the next several years and will end up with more nuclear power plants than the rest of the world combined by a significant multiple. They have no intention of hobbling their economy and causing economic chaos as they race ahead to become the dominant world superpower by 2035. They understand neither wind nor solar are capable of delivering the type of cheap and reliable base load power needed to build and maintain a first world economy. They are however more than willing to sell all the countries of the western world all the solar panels and windmills that they produce at rock bottom prices. Nothing like supplying your enemies with all the tools they need to undermine their own economies and clear a path to easy world supremacy. The Chinese are NOT stupid. Never forget that.

One would have hoped we would have been smart enough to learn from Europe’s mistakes. We did manage to do it for 4 years. However with the nation under Democrat control, we now seem determined to ignore science, economics, and the proof literally staring us in the face daily from the growing problems engulfing Europe concerning the truth about trying to rely on just wind and solar power.

Jerry
Jerry
1 year ago

Good article, I agree.

Carl Mitchell
Carl Mitchell
1 year ago

It’s time to realize the Democratic Party, legacy and social media and the elites don’t give a damn about the working class and the Need to Vote RED.

Michael J
Michael J
1 year ago

The lefts demonization of anything they oppose is standard operating procedure. Even the words fossil fuels carry that derogatory connotation. Instead of improving existing coal or natural gas energy, it’s demise without an equivalent replacement has always been the wreaking ball first with no working solution. It’s these policies implemented by career politicians and bureaucrats that have caused our energy demise. The last time a new oil refinery was built in California was 1968.
Draconian regulations have crippled innovation to the point where no one will build infrastructure because of the mountains of red tape. Taking away proven sources of power without reliable replacements cannot be solely managed by rolling blackouts. Newly mandated electric anything will be that last nail in the energy coffin.

Bob L.
Bob L.
1 year ago

We got a preview of what can and will happen if we become too dependent on windmills and solar panels in February 2021 when the DEEP freeze hit Texas. The windmills froze or did not turn due to a lack of sufficient wind and the solar panels were coated with snow, greatly reducing their output. Meanwhile, just about ten miles from where I am sitting right now, there were two idled coal fired power units, which if common sense were to return could be revived and put back into service.

Unfortunately, the push for more dependence on wind and solar, along with the push for electric cars is going to lead to a critical electric crisis. The wind doesn’t always blow and the Sun doesn’t shine at night or sufficiently under cloud cover. Windmills are mechanical beings that need frequent servicing and it takes lots of them to equal the power output of a coal fired power plant. Simply put, windmills and solar panels are not economically efficient or practical. The only viable and economically replacement for coal is nuclear power, but the “N” word is a dirty word in the minds of radical environmentalists.

Tesla is going to deliver the first electric big rigs to Dr Pepper at the end of this year. They will have a (claimed) 500 mile range on a single charge. That might be alright for regional deliveries, but not for over the road work unless there are way stations along the regular routes and trucks can be swapped out like horses were on the Pony Express.

Yes, we will deeply regret the push for green electricity, both due to it’s eventually failure to deliver as well as it’s costs. .

Patriot Will
Patriot Will
1 year ago

Logical people who are serious about doing the best they can, carefully consider the pros and cons before they actually physically accomplish the goals. The Marxist Democrats are totally inept about using the analytical thought processes when it comes to helping Americans. They are so selfish and ignorant that they exist to satisfy their own fantasies. Until our technology becomes considerably more advanced, coal needs to be part of the lifeblood of the great energy needs of a strong America. Good politicians are serious and thoughtful. Horrible politicians, such as those who are leaders in the Marxist progressive movement, are tragically doing much more bad than they are good. The US should be energy independent from other countries. That’s a no brainer.

Patriot Will
Patriot Will
1 year ago

At 1:30 EDT, my comments have been marked “Awaiting for approval.” There is no good reason for this.

William C Smith
William C Smith
1 year ago

“WE” did not do this. The Omnipotent “They” did, and are doing.

pete
pete
1 year ago

I worked in the power industry in the 70’s and have been around it in the years since. This author could, like me, crunch the numbers and tell you their plan is unworkable. LIbs live in a fantasy world.

Bill on the Hill
Bill on the Hill
1 year ago

The irony in all of this, America has the cleanest coal fired plants in the world & it is a complete shame to NOT utilize this form of energy across America… As the author has stated, solar & wind are unreliable as Texas found out first hand resulting in deaths because of frozen windmills…
Bill… :~)

mike
mike
1 year ago

There will be a lot of people perish because of this decision. The new green deal only has catastrophe written all over it and
waiting for a place to happen in your city, town, or state.

Don in The Miwest
Don in The Miwest
1 year ago

Well written Luke. Most folks do not realize that we need iron in the ground (Coal plants, natural gas generation, nuclear generation)in order for our electric transmission system to transport energy. And in addition, many of our coal burning plants now have high efficient scrubbers and also burn low carbon fuel. Natural gas and nuclear energy or clean energy never get mentioned compared to wind and solar.
Wind energy gets all the favoritism as it is Subsidized by our government and Favored over other forms of generation in our electric markets.
Our industry leaders have failed us. They should be taking the lead in common sense reliability, environmental considerations and lobbying the elites.

Jeb
Jeb
1 year ago

The status of coal mines and other “turned off” power sources Will give the hard heads, brainwashed and greenies something to think about while sitting in a cold dark house starving.

Morbious
Morbious
1 year ago

The treason party will regret nothing. Its the proles, meaning us, who will gnash our teeth shivering in the dark who will regret this. By design. The crazy s.hit we all laughed at thirty years ago? Well, they were serious and they never sleep. You cant reason with these people any more than you can talk dracula out of bloodsucking at midnight. We live in an era of mass insanity.

Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis
1 year ago

All CO2 reduction the US may realize by closing coal fired plants will be offset by China building more:

China approves 15 GW of new coal-fired power in H1 – research
reuters.com/markets/commodities/china-approves-15-gw-new-coal-fired-power-h1-research-2022-09-28/

Richard Minetti
Richard Minetti
1 year ago

Dumbest move ever – there are no new nuclear plants being built to carry the “new deal” load, these dumb democrats are killing us slowly!

Walter Royal
Walter Royal
1 year ago

If it comes to people freezing in the dark it will become our duty to make sure the misery is equally distributed.

John Blair
John Blair
1 year ago

I do believe that Mr. Allen needs some real help. Personifying a filthy coal plant and enumerating a dream about it seem like dangerous things happening in his mind.

Sam
Sam
1 year ago

We as Americans shouldn’t allow this administration to destroy our way of life!

Leyzer
Leyzer
1 year ago

Joppa may have been cheap and reliable, but it was not safe. It emitted mercury, fine particulates, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide, poisoning the air and water and warming the climate. There is no need for energy shortages, given the huge potential of solar, wind and (in the short term) gas.

Linda Marty
Linda Marty
1 year ago

Too sad and scary for words

Tim Conley
Tim Conley
1 year ago

The lifespan of a solar panel is 15 years The lifespan of a wind turban is 22 years Many units don’t last their planned lifespan and then the disposal is expensive bc they are made of materials that don’t recycle. The carbon fiber in wind turban blades is stacking up faster than old tires. The solar panels and wind power blades are a environmental disaster. Worse than nuclear fuel waste.

Garye
Garye
1 year ago

Typica marxist democrat party tactics, destroy and then STEAL !
These SCUM have no bottom.
THROW OUT EVERY DEMOCRAT FROM EVERY OFFICE!
They are a CANCER on America,Freedom and Our GOD GIVEN RIGHT!

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

Losing a Reliable Energy Source and JOBS over Global Warming LIE.
And there is NOTHING or JOBS to Replace Coal, a CHEAP and RELIABLE ENERGY SOURCE.
Utility’s will be astronomical and MORE MONEY OUT OF OUR POCKETS being STOLEN.
Another DICTATOR Beijing biden BRAINDEAD policy to DESTROY OUR COUNTRY and LIVELYHOODS.
Without Coal, Natural Gas will be Astronomical in COST.
Good luck on Heating your home this winter and good luck keeping your house Cool next summer.
All for the Global Warming LIE.

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