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Follow the Money to Boiler Tubing in 2013!

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 gaslines.jpgIn 1992 James Carville, strategist of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, coined the now famous term “It’s the economy stupid” and it is still relevant in almost every conversation related to emerging markets.  This is the message that smart people are hearing when it comes to closing coal plants.  As much as we would all like to believe in an altruistic population, it’s not concern over our environment that is closing coal plants.  The primary force behind the migration from coal plants to natural gas is the energy market.  Put more simply it’s about profit in the United States economy.

But before you invest your all your savings in natural gas, consider the possibility that natural gas prices may rise sharply and energy from coal may be cheaper.  What if the supply of natural gas production cannot keep up with the ever increasing demand in the US?  Consider a sudden disruption in the supply of natural gas.  Americans are fickle when it comes to their energy demands and if there is a fluctuation in the power grid due to natural gas, they will quickly be excited about clean-coal energy production. 

The public relations campaign that is waving the green flag for natural gas at present has financial underpinnings that will crumble quickly should power supplies be challenged. 

If the energy market see-saws toward coal, the financial winner will be the power plant that is ready and prepared to meet the demand of anxious stock holders.  Experts like NYISO President and CEO, Stephen G. Whitley, warned us two years ago that “An overdependence on one fuel source can have negative impacts on reliability, price, and environmental sustainability.”

So which power plants are prepared?  Likely it will be those that have invested time and money into maintaining coal-fired boilers of which boiler tubing is such an important dynamic. 

Some plants have invested in GE Intelligent Software that provides early warning and location information on boiler tube leaks.  According to vice president of GE Intelligent Platforms, Erik Udstuen, “Tube leaks in coal-fired boilers are leading causes of forced outages and lost production.”


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