In 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
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.”