Friday, April 1, 2011

New Coal Plants Fall Far Short On Job Promises

A new study by the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies finds communities that accept new coal-fired power plants are getting burned on promises of jobs:
“I think the overarching issue here is that for a lot of the communities that are being asked to host these plants, there’s an extremely difficult cost-benefit analysis that they’re being asked to make,” said David Eichenthal, the president of the Ochs Center. “They are aware of the environmental and health issues that you take on when you have a coal plant put in your backyard. But many of these communities are in dire economic straits, and it tips the balance for them to allow this to occur.”

“But what they’re being promised,” he said, “isn’t what’s being delivered.”

The analysis looked at the six largest new coal-fired power plants to come online between 2005 and 2009, including facilities in Pottawattamie County, Iowa; Milam and Robertson Counties, Tex.; Otoe County, Neb.; Berkeley County, S.C.; and Marathon County, Wisc. All were plants exceeding capacity of 500 megawatts. [...]

The results: only a little over half, or 56 percent of every 1,000 jobs projected, appeared to be actually created as a result of the coal plants’ coming online. And in four of the six counties, the projects delivered on just over a quarter of the jobs projected.
What do new coal-fired power plants deliver 100% of? Their admitted emissions. Virginia's new coal-fired power plant in Wise County is projected to emit 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide, 4,132 tons of carbon monoxide, 604 tons of sulfur dioxide, 1,920 tons of nitrogen oxides, 329 tons of particulate matter, 139 tons of volatile organic compounds, and 5 pounds of mercury. Every single year it's in operation.

Photo via Flickr's Wigwam Jones

Note: This post was updated to reflect the latest permits for the Wise County plant
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