Xcel Energy has announced that it is making plans to convert to "clean coal." This will pose a serious issue for Colorado. This "clean coal" does not generally use anthracite in its conversion. Anthracite, which is the type of coal produced in Colorado and Wyoming, is an energy-poor, moisture-high substance. Clean coal is coal chemically washed of minerals and impurities, sometimes gasified, burned and the resulting flue gases treated with steam and reburned so as to make the carbon dioxide in the flue gas economically recoverable. The carbon dioxide can then be captured and stored instead of being released into the atmosphere. It makes a lousy energy source because when it's "cooked," there is not enough combustible material extracted into the gas to make anthracite efficient. This, however, will be of great benefit to the East Coast.
Ultimately, if this plan goes through Colorado will take a severe hit in coal consumption. As of last year, our own coal produced over 83% of electricity generated in Colorado: 91% of our coal was used for electricity. The number of coal miners is almost 3900. I don't have an exact dollar amount for coal, but mineral production was just over 5.56 billion, which is about 2.5% of the Gross State Product.
Some of the incentives for clean coal that have been provided through the Energy Act of 2005 include:
1. Authorization of loan guarantees for "innovative technologies" that avoid greenhouse gases, which includes clean coal.
2. Initiative to increase coal as an energy source while also reducing air pollution, through authorizing $200 million annually for clean coal initiatives, repealing the current 160-acre cap on coal leases, allowing the advanced payment of royalties from coal mines and requiring an assessment of coal resources on federal lands that are not national parks.
3. $1.6 billion in tax incentives for investments in clean coal facilities.