Connecticut and coal

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Introduction

Connecticut had 2 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 614 MW of capacity, representing 7.0% of the state's total electric generating capacity; Connecticut ranks 40th out of the 50 states in terms of coal-fired electric generating capacity.[1] In 2006, Connecticut's coal-fired power plants produced 4.9 million tons of CO2, 3,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 2,000 tons of nitrogen oxide; coal-fired power plants were responsible for 11.5% of the state's total CO2 emissions.[2] In 2005, Connecticut emitted 12.1 tons of CO2 per person, about 40% less than the U.S. average.[3] This relatively low emissions level is largely due to the fact that 27.3% of the state's electric generating capacity comes from natural gas-fired power plants, and 24.8% comes from nuclear energy.[1]

No coal was mined in Connecticut in 2006.[4]

History

With little or no coal reserves, Connecticut has no history of coal mining.[5] The coal power industry is also relatively weak in the state, which is dominated by nuclear and natural gas-fired power production; there are currently no active proposals to build new coal-fired power plants in Connecticut.

Citizen activism

NAACP Clearing the Air Road Tour and the Bridgeport Harbor Station

Bridgeport, CT resident Adrienne Farrar on air pollution in Bridgeport, CT.

In April 2010, Jacqui Patterson of the NAACP Climate Justice interviewed community members in Bridgeport. Jacqui wrote the following account of the impacts of the Bridgeport Harbor Station:[6]

Bridgeport is the second-poorest city in Connecticut after Hartford, with a per capita income just over half of the state average. The plant is wedged between Bridgeport’s Downtown and South End neighborhoods, which are among the city’s poorest. The average income of people who live within one mile of the plant is just $11,400, and over 87% of the plant’s neighbors are people of color. Six schools are within a mile of the plant, as is the University of Bridgeport (the tenth-most racially diverse university in the country, with over 60% students of color).
Bridgeport, CT resident Audrey Gaines on air pollution in Bridgeport, CT.
The stories in Bridgeport solidified a pattern that has been consistent throughout the trip including high rates of respiratory illnesses, nuisance coal ash, and disproportionate exposure by low income communities of color.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Adrienne, who is administering a training program for green jobs, Audrey whose job in the public health department has and her lifelong residency in Bridgeport have shown the impact of the coal plant on the community, and Craig who has spent the majority of his 59 years in Bridgeport and was able to provide a tour of the neighborhood surrounding the plant.
Craig Kelly of the NAACP on air pollution in Bridgeport, CT.
As we started our tour at the plant, we weren’t able to begin our filming in front of the plant because we were run off by security who stated that filming in front of the plant was a felony offense by order of the department of Homeland Security! During the tour you’ll see on the footage several times where I filmed the plant from afar, including a bit where I filmed the largest mountain of coal I’ve seen yet in all my visits to coal plants. And it is completely uncovered, which is why even now I have coal dust on my car. Craig, who narrated our tour, omitted any indication of filming of the plant when I was doing it, seemingly out of fear that he might be implicated by my lawlessness so watch for the coal mountain because it won’t be mentioned!
Adrienne shared some history of the South End community, where the plant is located, and talked about concerns that have been expressed by residents bout coal soot covering their cars, not being able to open their windows, and not being able to hang out laundry because of the coal ash.

Greenpeace protest at Bridgeport Station

Coal Activist Reports in from Banner Hang

On Feb. 17, 2011, Greenpeace activists scaled the Bridgeport Harbor coal plant and unfurled a 20 X 40 ft banner with the message "Shut it Down: Quit Coal." The event marked the first major action of Greenpeace's 'Quit Coal' campaign, which seeks to highlight the devastating consequences of continuing to rely on the fossil fuel in the United States. According to Greenpeace, the Bridgeport Harbor plant is an old, polluting coal plant that is no longer necessary to provide power to the Connecticut grid, and should be shut down to mitigate the worst effects of global climate change.[7]

Police cut the banner down, and at least five activists were reportedly arrested for their connection with the event.[7]

Legislative issues

Proposed coal plants

There are currently no proposals - either active or cancelled - to build coal-fired power plants in Connecticut.

Coal lobbying groups

Coal power companies

Existing coal plants

Connecticut had 2 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 614 MW of capacity - representing 7.0% of the state's total electric generating capacity.[1][8][9] None of these units is larger than 50MW.[10][11] (To see a map of existing coal plants in the U.S., click here.)

Here are details on both of these plants:[1][12]

Plant Name County Owner Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions SO2/MW Rank
Bridgeport Fairfield Public Service Electric & Gas 1968 400 MW 3,171,000 tons 2,885 tons 234
AES Thames New London AES 1989 214 MW 1,713,000 tons N/A N/A

These 2 plants represent 11.5% of the state's total CO2 emissions.[3]

For a map of existing coal plants in the state, see the bottom of this page.

Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Connecticut, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that was not recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[13] The report mentioned Connecticut's AES Thames Generation Plant (Montville Power Station) was one site that has groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[14]

Coal Sources

In 2008, the 486,980 tons of coal burned at the AES Thames plant in New London came from Webster, WV.[15] The 997,370 tons of coal burned at the Bridgeport Harbor plant in Fairfield was imported from the strip mines of Indonesia's East Kalimantan region.[15][16]

Major coal mines

There are no coal mines in Connecticut.[17]

Spending on Coal Imports

In May 2010, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report titled Burning Coal, Burning Cash: Ranking the States that Import the Most Coal.[18] The report found that Connecticut ranks ninth in a list state-by-state spending on international coal imports in 2008.[18] According to the report, Indonesia was the largest source of coal burned in the New England state, with $79 million worth of coal purchased from the country.[18] West Virginia was another major source of coal for Connecticut coal-fired plants; power companies there spent $51 million on West Virginia coal.[18] Connecticut power plants spent a total of $130 million on coal in 2008; 60.8% was spent on internationally-sourced coal.[18]

In 2008, sixteen U.S. states imported 25.4 million tons of coal from outside the country at the cost of $1.8 billion, an amount the equivalent of 1,700 barges over the course of a year, or over four per day.[18] These imports amounted to three percent of the coal burned in the U.S. for electricity.[18] The report noted that while coal imports into the U.S. have tripled over a ten year period ending in 2008, the country exports more coal than it imports.[18]

Alabama (with $489 million) ranks number one for state-by-state spending on international coal imports, followed by Florida (with $307 million).[18] Another New England state, Massachusetts, takes the number three position, having spent $206 million on Colombian coal.[18] Connecticut was preceded by New Hampshire, where power plants spent $79 million on coal imported from outside the U.S.[18]

Coal is the source of 14.4 percent of the state's power.[18] The majority of Connecticut's electricity comes from nuclear energy (50.8 percent) and natural gas (26.5 percent).[18] The UCS report ranked states dependence on coal by six categories. Of the six categories, Connecticut was in the top ten for only this one category ('Spending on International Coal Imports').[18] The state otherwise ranked as follows:

  • Expenditures on Coal as Fuel for Power Plants (2008): CT ranks #31 with $130 million
  • Amount of Coal Used to Fuel Power Plants, by Weight (2008): CT ranks #32 with 2,033,000 tons (total & net imports)
  • Spending on Net Coal Imports per Capita (2008): CT ranks #30 with $37
  • Spending on Net Coal Imports as a Share of Gross State Product (GSP) (2008): CT ranks #31 with 0.06%
  • Net Coal Imports as a Share of Total State Electricity Use (2008): CT ranks #30 with 14% net imports/electricity use

Citizen groups

Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "EIA" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Estimated Emissions for U.S. Electric Power Industry by State, 1990-2006, Energy Information Administration, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Connecticut Energy Consumption Information, eRedux website, accessed June 2008.
  4. Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  5. State Coal Profiles, Energy Information Administration, 1994. - cached copy at CoalDiver.org
  6. "Day IX Clearing th eAir Road Tour - Bridgeport, CT - Bridgeport Harbor Generating Station," NAACP Climate Justice Initiative, April 24, 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 Brian Merchant, "Live Blogging: Detained by Police at Greenpeace Anti-Coal Protest" Tree Hugger, Feb. 17, 2011.
  8. Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
  9. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  10. Power Plants in Alaska, Powerplantjobs.com, accessed June 2008.
  11. Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration website, accessed May 2008.
  12. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  13. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  14. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "New England power plants that use coal and where the coal comes from", "Appalachian Voices", accessed March 30, 2009.
  16. "Sources of coal used by your electricity supplier", Appalachian Voices website accessed March 30, 2009.
  17. Major U.S. Coal Mines, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  18. 18.00 18.01 18.02 18.03 18.04 18.05 18.06 18.07 18.08 18.09 18.10 18.11 18.12 18.13 Jeff Deyette and Barbara Freese, "Burning coal, burning cash: Ranking the states that import the most coal", Union of Concerned Scientists, May 18, 2010.

Maps

Existing coal plants in Connecticut

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