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Pieces of coal in dirty hand

Coal Toppled as West Virginia King

Even deep in coal country, utilities are pivoting toward renewables as the behest of major corporate customers.

Appalachian Power, the big utility serving West Virginia coal country, is looking to solar, wind and even natural gas for its electrical generation future, according to the New York Times.

“Appalachian Power still burns plenty of coal, but in recent years it has closed three coal-fired plants and converted two others to gas, reducing its dependence on coal to 61 percent last year, down from 74 percent in 2012,” the newspaper reported.

Neighboring Virginia, home to long-time coal reliant Dominion, is also shifting its resource base. The utility crafted a special rate to help Amazon and other companies buy renewable energy.

“In Kentucky, a chance meeting between a state regulator and a Facebook employee ultimately led the Public Service Commission to advise utilities that they could offer customers renewable energy packages, part of an effort to attract new business and hold on to automakers like G.M. and Toyota.

“And in Wyoming, the nation’s leading coal producer by far, Black Hills Energy worked with Microsoft to create a complex arrangement for the technology giant to get enough wind energy to fulfill current and future needs at Microsoft’s data center in Cheyenne,” the Times reported.

Utilities thus far this year have forged special bilateral green tariffs for 360 megawatts of renewable energy with an added 465 megawatts of deals in the wings. That is up from 220 megawatts in all of 2016, the newspaper reported.

‘“This is what these corporations want and, for the electric companies, they have to figure out how to do it,’ said Lisa Wood, executive director of the Institute for Electric Innovation at the Edison Foundation,” the Times reported.




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