What’s next for coal?

Coal has been a recurring topic in our national narrative – is it dying, or is it making a comeback?

At the beginning of 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected the Department of Energy’s plan to provide cost recovery for America’s coal and nuclear plants. Along with a number of potential disadvantages, the bail out could have raised rates for consumers and increased power sector pollution, while doing little to improve the resiliency of the system.

At the same time, the current administration continues to vow to end the “war on coal,” in order to bring back jobs to communities whose economies rely on coal.

In juxtaposition with the administration’s narrative, FERC’s ruling serves as a clear market signal in the opposite direction – indicating that the coal industry cannot be supported sustainably as the once viable infrastructure has moved on. More sustainable energy options continue to mature and gain traction.

Practitioners from the U.S., including Delta’s Cindy Winland, tour alternative energy operations in Germany.

These competing narratives around coal in our current media cycle will be the topic of discussion at our next Glass Half Full Drinks & Discussion event on February 22. We’ll bring together experts to discuss the policy, economic, and community dynamics at play and what’s next for coal. Please join us for that dialogue.

“War on coal” or not, we believe that coal plant communities can learn from other places working towards the redevelopment of these large industrial sites and developing sustainable, economic opportunities. Drawing upon our two decades of experience engaging in community-driven redevelopment of vacant sites and brownfields, we’ve proudly worked with coal plant communities across the country from New York to Montana, partnering with leaders to develop the tools they need to navigate a post-coal economic and energy landscape.

We’ve compiled real stories and examples from U.S. communities in the trenches of redeveloping a former coal plant in In Transition: Stories from Coal Plant Communities, in order to help others navigate the process. We hope that each story provides municipal leaders, union representatives, and community activists with real, applicable solutions to foreseeable issues.

To assist communities further, we’re currently creating a Coal Plant Redevelopment Roadmap, which will provide coal-impacted municipalities and community leaders with tools and resources they can use to navigate the transition process. Throughout the document, community- and site-specific impacts are addressed in tandem to highlight that site reuse can and should be leveraged to create positive impacts across the community. Stay tuned as the document will be released in the first quarter of 2018.

We will continue to work with coal communities in various stages of decommissioning and redevelopment, in order to understand the economic, environmental, and social impacts closure may have on the area. Please join us for our upcoming Glass Half Full conversation, and reach out if your community is in need of planning assistance to Emily Rhodes at erhodes@delta-institute.org.

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