The future of coal-generated energy is unclear

Ryan Randazzo
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 12, 2008 04:32 PM

Uncertainty about the future of coal power plants could prevent Arizonans from tapping the inexpensive and abundant resource to meet their growing electricity demands, and likely will mean higher energy bills.

Coal powers a hefty portion of American appliances for electric utilities and their ratepayers.

But coal releases more carbon dioxide than other energy sources, and with growing agreement that those emissions must be capped, cut or taxed to address global warming, utility companies see coal as a low-hanging yet forbidden fruit.

With legislation pending in Congress and other parts of the world to charge utilities for CO2 emissions, utility officials are hazy on the future of traditionally cheap coal power.

Companies such as Arizona Public Service Co. and Salt River Project are wary of committing to new coal projects that might seem inexpensive now. New global-warming laws could make those plants much more expensive to operate down the road.


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