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RE: [hreg] Coal and Houston

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  • Michael Christie
    Mark, I vote to give you the title of HREG Coal Guru . You certainly brought a lot of interesting and relevant information to the group. And, you answered my
    Message 1 of 25 , Jul 3, 2003
      Mark,

      I vote to give you the title of "HREG Coal Guru". You certainly brought a
      lot of interesting and relevant information to the group. And, you answered
      my question. It may very well have been this plant that my source of
      information was referring to. Many people, myself included, are rather loose
      in our definition of "Houston". And as you can see, we are not all well
      informed.

      Thank you
      Michael Christie

      -----Original Message-----
      From: mark r. johnson [mailto:mrj53@...]
      Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2003 7:47 AM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [hreg] Coal and Houston


      --- In hreg@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Christie" <mchristi@f...> wrote:
      > ...
      > Someone in the railroad industry once told me that 100 rail cars of
      coal
      > came into Houston every day.

      Let me try to shed a little light on the few areas where I have some
      good knowledge. The Houston region has exactly ONE coal burning plant,
      the W.A. Parish unit located I think in Wharton. It is fed by low
      sulfur Wyoming coal transported by rail. Literally speaking, there is
      absolutely no need for coal rail cars to pass into or through Houston,
      they will go to Fort Bend County instead.

      It is a sizable portion of the old HL&P's generating capacity, larger
      in fact than the nuclear portion. But it was designed and built in the
      old regulated era where they sought coal and nuclear fuel to reduce
      dependence on natural gas. For a time there were laws on the books
      prohibiting the building of power plants which used natural gas, that
      is the main reason we are saddled with not-so-well conceived coal and
      nuclear plants. HL&P for many years was 100% natural gas fueled, left
      to their own devices they might not have ever wanted to diversify into
      nuclear and coal.

      One weak point of the Parish coal plant concept, was a limited number
      of rail lines coming into the plant. After some railroad mergers,
      there was *one* remaining company serving Parish, and as you might
      guess they had a rather harsh idea of shipping rates. After a couple
      years of this, HL&P built another short rail line so they could have
      at least a competitive market shipping them their needed fuel.

      Utilities in Central Texas and North Texas make relatively extensive
      use of lignite, an indigenous type of coal which is cheap, not low
      sulfur, low in energy content per pound, and therefore not worth
      transporting. The only really good way to burn lignite is to build a
      power plant very close to the lignite mining, ideally at the mouth of
      the mine. Economics of lignite depend on the quantity and quality of
      fuel available -- electricity from such can be relatively very cheap
      if you have a good lignite source (and don't invest too heavily in
      anti-pollution equipment).

      The old HL&P also built one lignite plant in Central Texas near Waco.
      What I have heard is their fuel source is mediocre, a thin vein which
      is not expected to last but about 25-30 years. This plant's economics
      would be much improved except for the lousy fuel source. It is my
      understanding that many other lignite plants in Texas are more
      economical.

      With a slow trend toward competition in the energy industry, we should
      watch to see whether the coal or the lignite plant might be shut down
      for cost reasons.

      I used to work for HL&P and so learned of many of these things through
      office communication and publications which are not widely
      distributed. FWIW my opinion is that coal is inherently a loathsome
      fuel to burn vs. natural gas, because of coal's pollution aspects.
      Natural gas is inherently a pretty clean fuel as the great majority of
      the non-fuel parts are removed at the wellhead. To me the trade-off
      between burning coal which is nearly always cheap but dirty, vs.
      natural gas, is a devilish temptation. One might realistically say the
      worst natural gas plant is cleaner than the best coal plant.

      I am interested in all forms of energy including renewables, but I
      will always be able to
      articulate the virtues of certain non-renewable fuels.

      Hope this helps -- Mark Johnson





      Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
    • Leonard Bachman
      Michael, I once heard a knowledgable estimate that it would take a coal train one mile long arriving every hour in Houston to furnish all our regional
      Message 2 of 25 , Jul 3, 2003
        Michael,
        I once heard a knowledgable estimate that it would take a coal train one
        mile long arriving every hour in Houston to furnish all our regional
        electricity generation. That was in the day when we were trying to save all
        the natural gas for direct residential use, assuming that industry could buy
        and process other forms of energy.
        Leonard Bachman

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Michael Christie" <mchristi@...>
        To: <hreg@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2003 10:45 AM
        Subject: RE: [hreg] Coal and Houston


        > Mark,
        >
        > I vote to give you the title of "HREG Coal Guru". You certainly brought a
        > lot of interesting and relevant information to the group. And, you
        answered
        > my question. It may very well have been this plant that my source of
        > information was referring to. Many people, myself included, are rather
        loose
        > in our definition of "Houston". And as you can see, we are not all well
        > informed.
        >
        > Thank you
        > Michael Christie
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: mark r. johnson [mailto:mrj53@...]
        > Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2003 7:47 AM
        > To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [hreg] Coal and Houston
        >
        >
        > --- In hreg@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Christie" <mchristi@f...> wrote:
        > > ...
        > > Someone in the railroad industry once told me that 100 rail cars of
        > coal
        > > came into Houston every day.
        >
        > Let me try to shed a little light on the few areas where I have some
        > good knowledge. The Houston region has exactly ONE coal burning plant,
        > the W.A. Parish unit located I think in Wharton. It is fed by low
        > sulfur Wyoming coal transported by rail. Literally speaking, there is
        > absolutely no need for coal rail cars to pass into or through Houston,
        > they will go to Fort Bend County instead.
        >
        > It is a sizable portion of the old HL&P's generating capacity, larger
        > in fact than the nuclear portion. But it was designed and built in the
        > old regulated era where they sought coal and nuclear fuel to reduce
        > dependence on natural gas. For a time there were laws on the books
        > prohibiting the building of power plants which used natural gas, that
        > is the main reason we are saddled with not-so-well conceived coal and
        > nuclear plants. HL&P for many years was 100% natural gas fueled, left
        > to their own devices they might not have ever wanted to diversify into
        > nuclear and coal.
        >
        > One weak point of the Parish coal plant concept, was a limited number
        > of rail lines coming into the plant. After some railroad mergers,
        > there was *one* remaining company serving Parish, and as you might
        > guess they had a rather harsh idea of shipping rates. After a couple
        > years of this, HL&P built another short rail line so they could have
        > at least a competitive market shipping them their needed fuel.
        >
        > Utilities in Central Texas and North Texas make relatively extensive
        > use of lignite, an indigenous type of coal which is cheap, not low
        > sulfur, low in energy content per pound, and therefore not worth
        > transporting. The only really good way to burn lignite is to build a
        > power plant very close to the lignite mining, ideally at the mouth of
        > the mine. Economics of lignite depend on the quantity and quality of
        > fuel available -- electricity from such can be relatively very cheap
        > if you have a good lignite source (and don't invest too heavily in
        > anti-pollution equipment).
        >
        > The old HL&P also built one lignite plant in Central Texas near Waco.
        > What I have heard is their fuel source is mediocre, a thin vein which
        > is not expected to last but about 25-30 years. This plant's economics
        > would be much improved except for the lousy fuel source. It is my
        > understanding that many other lignite plants in Texas are more
        > economical.
        >
        > With a slow trend toward competition in the energy industry, we should
        > watch to see whether the coal or the lignite plant might be shut down
        > for cost reasons.
        >
        > I used to work for HL&P and so learned of many of these things through
        > office communication and publications which are not widely
        > distributed. FWIW my opinion is that coal is inherently a loathsome
        > fuel to burn vs. natural gas, because of coal's pollution aspects.
        > Natural gas is inherently a pretty clean fuel as the great majority of
        > the non-fuel parts are removed at the wellhead. To me the trade-off
        > between burning coal which is nearly always cheap but dirty, vs.
        > natural gas, is a devilish temptation. One might realistically say the
        > worst natural gas plant is cleaner than the best coal plant.
        >
        > I am interested in all forms of energy including renewables, but I
        > will always be able to
        > articulate the virtues of certain non-renewable fuels.
        >
        > Hope this helps -- Mark Johnson
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        >
        >
        >
      • chasmauch@aol.com
        In a message dated 7/3/03 8:09:34 AM Central Daylight Time, ... This happened a long time ago - in the 1960s as I recall. It was a continuing story in most
        Message 3 of 25 , Jul 3, 2003
          In a message dated 7/3/03 8:09:34 AM Central Daylight Time, mrj53@... writes:

          I have generally heard of Oscar Wyatt being a crooked businessman, and
          I am willing to believe the worst about him. But I have not heard this
          story and would certainly like to see a reference to educate me about it.



          This happened a long time ago - in the 1960s as I recall. It was a continuing story in most newspapers in south Texas for several years about the problems between SA, Corpus Christi, and other south Texas towns vs Coastal. Texas Monthly did a detailed, feature-length article that gave the best blow-by-blow description I know of. Don't know if their archives go back that far but you might find it in a library. Don't remember the exact date.

          One thing I would request, is to not lump all scams in the same
          category -- I think it is important to *understand* scams so honest
          people can better protect themselves. My understanding is Enron was a
          particular type of criminal business behavior; I would not want to say
          another criminal businessman is "like Enron" unless it is absolutely true.



          There can be a fine line between sharp business practices and outright deliberate criminal behaviour. Wyatt always had a reputation of walking that line and kept a bevy of sharp lawyers on the payroll to make sure he remained about an hour ahead of the posse. I will try to explain very generally below what he did, and you can decide if it was a scam or sharp business.

          I guess by now I am one of the older folks, and this is specialized
          knowledge that we *don't* all remember. Actually, I want to express
          real skepticism that Wyatt was that influential in the building of
          lignite/coal plants in Texas. One cannot "convert" a natural gas plant
          to coal, as coal requires some elaborate and expensive machinery to
          handle it. I try to stay aware of electric generating technology and
          have never heard of a gas plant being converted to coal. If I am wrong
          then please have mercy and point me to some education.



          Wyatt was a legendary figure around Corpus where he started out, and I was working as an independent petroleum engineer in Corpus at the time. Everyone claimed to know him but of course most did not. He was able to sell gas quick at the best price available so lots of folks wanted to do business with him, but it was a kind of scary thing because he also had the reputation of screwing his partners and just about everyone else around. I never had any direct dealing with him but knew a lot of folks who did, and as one used to say, you had to be very careful - he said it was OK to dance with a bear but be sure to keep an eye on your partner.

          Most people who read the papers were following the whole scam (business transaction?) closely, and those in the "oil bizness" were following it even closer, so guess we just assumed that everyone else was too. And no, you can't just convert from gas to coal - that was bad wording on my part. But the city did start to change over - I assume by building new plants - and eventually did pretty much make the conversion.

          Lignite is a traditional fuel and in ample cheap supply in certain
          areas of Texas. Furthermore, the utilities in question cannot simply
          make a fuel choice arbitrarily, many are municipals (e.g. Austin and
          San Antonio) and so the city government is the body to give approval
          for any spending plan. Others such as Dallas' TXU must go to the PUC
          for approval of new plants -- granted TXU knows how to manipulate the
          PUC fairly well but it's not the style of Oscar Wyatt to have the
          patience to participate in PUC dockets (not unless somebody else does
          the huge amounts of routine work). It's easy to *imagine* a person
          like Oscar Wyatt setting energy policy for Texas, but believe me the
          real process is slow, painstaking, and includes many checks and
          balances which inhibit one person from having much influence.



          After I failed to become a rich independent oilman, I got married and had to find honest employment so went to work for a major company (Sun Oil) for the next 30 years as a natural gas engineer and eventually in the natural gas marketing department as a gas sales rep. The marketing situation was wild in those days since interstate sales were regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and intrastate sales were not. The price of the regulated gas was held ridiculously low while the unregulated intrastate market was much higher (not to mention all the heavy-handed regs pertaining to interstate sales) so naturally everyone avoided the interstate market if they possibly could.

          At one time there were as I recall about 15 different prices for gas, depending on a varitey of strange factors. The Natural Gas Act outlined the marketing rules very generally and relied on the FERC and the courts to interpret what the various provisions of the law meant. Often various portions of the regs were tied up in court on apeal for years during which time no one was sure what the rules were, so clearly it was a lawyer's dream and a nightmare for everyone else. In this situation, clever lawyers find all kinds of loopholes, and Coastal was one of the best in this regard.

          What they did was sign a long-term contract to supply gas to SA, Corpus, and the other cities at a fixed price of about 25 cents per thousand cubic feet. They convinced the various city councils that they had vast reserves to back up this commitment but in fact these reverves were tremendously overstated and they did not have anywhere near what they claimed to have. Then very soon the price of gas shot up above a dollar, leaving Coastal in a very bad positon. They did not have their own gas reserves under contract so would have to buy it on the open market for over a dollar and sell it for 25 cents - a situation guaranteed to result in bankruptcy in short order for anyone. Everyone thought Wyatt's goose was finally cooked but incredibly he managed to escape from the contracts. I am not sure how he pulled it off but it was a feat that would have done Houdini proud.

          Sorry to be so longwinded so will stop. Oceans of ink have been used writing about these transactions and a number of questions remain unanswered to this day. That's about all I know about it. If it was not a scam it was pretty close, and IMO the public got ripped off big time. I do not "imagine" that Wyatt "set the energy policy for Texas" but there in no question that he was pretty directly responsible for a lot coal coming in from out of state to replace natural gas. I guess it's all ancient history now. Oscar is a respectable billionaire businessman and we are still trying to figure out how to meet our energy needs when the oil and gas supply drops below demand, which won't be much longer. Gonna be some big changes made.

          Charlie

        • Michael Christie
          The comments about Oscar Wyatt and San Antonio caught my interest (I didn t live in Texas in those days, so it was all news to me) so I did some surfing on the
          Message 4 of 25 , Jul 3, 2003
            The comments about Oscar Wyatt and San Antonio caught my interest (I didn't
            live in Texas in those days, so it was all news to me) so I did some surfing
            on the web. There is a lot of stuff on Oscar, so if you want to find out
            information on him, just go surfing. Here's a little tidbit:
            http://www.la.utexas.edu/course-materials/government/chenry/mena/roles/oil/s
            p1994/0020.html

            All in all, he sounds like a rather despicable man. I may be wrong. Anyhow,
            while surfing, I happened on another site that may be of interest to
            everyone. It comes from our dear friends the French, and has more energy
            news than most people want to know about. Check the menu along the side: it
            has a link to world renewable energy news (complements of "The World News
            Network":
            http://www.frenchdictionary.com/s/oilprices/

            Michael Christie

            -----Original Message-----
            From: mark r. johnson [mailto:mrj53@...]
            Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2003 8:05 AM
            To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [hreg] Coal, Wyatt and Texas power


            --- In hreg@yahoogroups.com, chasmauch@a... wrote:
            > ...I think San Antonio and several other south Texas
            > towns use a lot of coal. This is a carryover effect of Oscar Wyatt's
            operations
            > years ago, an early day Enron type scam that should have resulted in
            the
            > bankruptcy of Coastal States, but due to his effective wheeling and
            dealing and
            > his sharp lawyers, he was able to wiggle out of it.

            I have generally heard of Oscar Wyatt being a crooked businessman, and
            I am willing to believe the worst about him. But I have not heard this
            story and would certainly like to see a reference to educate me about it.

            One thing I would request, is to not lump all scams in the same
            category -- I think it is important to *understand* scams so honest
            people can better protect themselves. My understanding is Enron was a
            particular type of criminal business behavior; I would not want to say
            another criminal businessman is "like Enron" unless it is absolutely true.

            > Older folks will remember
            > the details but anyway SA and some other south Texas towns switched
            over from
            > gas to coal and have been using it ever since.

            I guess by now I am one of the older folks, and this is specialized
            knowledge that we *don't* all remember. Actually, I want to express
            real skepticism that Wyatt was that influential in the building of
            lignite/coal plants in Texas. One cannot "convert" a natural gas plant
            to coal, as coal requires some elaborate and expensive machinery to
            handle it. I try to stay aware of electric generating technology and
            have never heard of a gas plant being converted to coal. If I am wrong
            then please have mercy and point me to some education.

            Lignite is a traditional fuel and in ample cheap supply in certain
            areas of Texas. Furthermore, the utilities in question cannot simply
            make a fuel choice arbitrarily, many are municipals (e.g. Austin and
            San Antonio) and so the city government is the body to give approval
            for any spending plan. Others such as Dallas' TXU must go to the PUC
            for approval of new plants -- granted TXU knows how to manipulate the
            PUC fairly well but it's not the style of Oscar Wyatt to have the
            patience to participate in PUC dockets (not unless somebody else does
            the huge amounts of routine work). It's easy to *imagine* a person
            like Oscar Wyatt setting energy policy for Texas, but believe me the
            real process is slow, painstaking, and includes many checks and
            balances which inhibit one person from having much influence.

            Please forgive the rather contentious tone of my post, I don't mean to
            denigrate you but am more interested in getting to the facts in as
            simple and direct a manner as possible.

            Best wishes -- Mark Johnson





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          • mark r. johnson
            ... That s ironic, on a board devoted to clean and renewable energy, very much wanting to look toward the future, I earn the guru title for the most
            Message 5 of 25 , Jul 5, 2003
              --- In hreg@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Christie" <mchristi@f...> wrote:
              > Mark,
              >
              > I vote to give you the title of "HREG Coal Guru".

              That's ironic, on a board devoted to clean and renewable energy, very
              much wanting to look toward the future, I earn the guru title for the
              most traditional, dirtiest fuel in widespread use! But I am flattered
              anyway. In several ways it fits me. Like I have said, I am interested
              in all forms of energy, including the dirty ones because "we" the
              world have an obligation to find a way to clean things up.

              Being centered in South Texas, it is one of the few areas in the USA
              where it is easy to imagine *not* burning coal for energy. Wonder if I
              would feel better about coal burning if I lived in say, Ohio <g>.
              Probably not.

              Thank you -- Mark J.
            • mark r. johnson
              ... continuing ... problems ... Texas ... blow-by-blow ... but you ... Thanks Charlie for summarizing it for me. I am sincerely interested in studying what
              Message 6 of 25 , Jul 5, 2003
                --- In hreg@yahoogroups.com, chasmauch@a... wrote:

                > This happened a long time ago - in the 1960s as I recall. It was a
                continuing
                > story in most newspapers in south Texas for several years about the
                problems
                > between SA, Corpus Christi, and other south Texas towns vs Coastal.
                Texas
                > Monthly did a detailed, feature-length article that gave the best
                blow-by-blow
                > description I know of. Don't know if their archives go back that far
                but you
                > might find it in a library.

                Thanks Charlie for summarizing it for me. I am sincerely interested in
                studying what Wyatt did wrong -- already I have learned that the Fort
                Bend County library has no books written about Oscar Wyatt or Coastal.
                Texas Monthly sounds like just the iconoclastic source to learn from,
                since nobody has written a book (have they?).

                Your summary sounds like it centers around natural gas (NG)
                shenanigans, and that coal and lignite use plays a role mainly as a
                way to avoid NG purchases. That is less far-out than my original
                impression, in fact easy to believe for a couple of reasons.

                Could the whole episode have been situated in the 1970's? Because the
                whole issue of NG not being in good supply, arose along with the
                energy crisis sparked by the 1973 Arab oil embargo (according to what
                I think I know). Along with the economic mis-allocation caused by
                Nixon's price controls, the world truly failed to understand the basic
                truth of energy supply and demand.

                Oil spiked in price and then fell to low levels. There were great
                worries about NG supply, and they created that multi-tiered system of
                price controls, "old" gas and "new" gas. In fact the world found it
                easy to believe we were running out of all sorts of resources, and
                lots of us believed the world was at a turning point. At the time I
                tended to believe it too, from 2003 I see a lot of the 1970's
                attitudes as the height of folly.

                One semi-unintended consequence of the NG rules was to spur
                construction of a number of new nuclear plants to provide replacement
                energy, including our own local STNP nuke. What you probably don't
                know is there were about SIX MORE nuke plants on HL&P's drawing
                boards, and I figure we got off lucky they weren't built. It was
                around the same era the root decisions were made to build the Parish
                coal plant and the Central Texas lignite plant which I accuse of being
                mediocre projects (keep in mind I could be wrong there). From that era
                we have Jimmy Carter's energy policies which have not worked out well
                in practice at all, including some expensive synfuel research and
                production projects.

                About nuclear projects: many were conceived and built in the 1960's
                and those had their problems with safety and reliability but their
                cost was reasonably low. During the 1970's construction costs zoomed
                for all sorts of construction projects including nuclear plants, so
                cost over-runs became legendarily huge. Our STNP was born in a year
                when damn near all the "good" nuclear engineers were already assigned
                to existing projects, so HL&P had the devil's choice between going
                with a second-string team of engineers from an experienced company, or
                with Brown and Root which had never done such a project before. They
                went with Brown and Root which in hindsight was a decision which cost
                them dearly.

                One thing to know about those years is the Houston area was growing
                very rapidly and there was genuinely a problem of having enough future
                generating capacity. They had to build something or else have their
                service territory reduced by the regulators (don't know if the PUC
                existed yet, but prior to the PUC there was a similar regulatory
                function centered around the cities). The choices were basically Texas
                lignite, non-Texas coal, and nuclear energy -- each would be one plant
                built, and each the first on a nontrivial learning curve for HL&P.

                The company's argument is like this: they had no choice but to design
                enough non-NG plants to replace 100% of their generating capacity, so
                the actual decision to go nuclear was sound. But they had no choice
                better than to use Brown and Root -- a decision which has been
                defended successfully in a number of legal challenges. I don't
                actually say HL&P made the wrong decision there, but suggest they
                might have needed a way to kill the project rather than persist until
                it cost about 10X its original cost estimate. To be balanced you
                cannot single out HL&P for poor decisions, since other companies
                building plants at the same time had similar cost overruns.

                Those awkward decisions of the 1970's came to a head during the
                1980's, when plants nationwide came to be finished at great cost, and
                utilities went to their regulators for enough income to pay the
                mortgages. In some cases the plants were *not* finished, ever, and
                still the companies needed to ask for rate hikes because they still
                had that mortgage on a huge project. They needed the cash flow badly,
                and a number of utilities had to endure cutbacks and dividend cuts
                after an unsympathetic public did the Monday Morning Quarterback
                analysis of the decisions of the 1970's.

                So to recap, what really happened after the panicky decisions of the
                Carter years? Rather than becoming nearly extinct as planned, NG only
                became cheaper and more plentiful -- throughout the construction of
                STNP, HL&P relied on forecasts of much higher NG prices just around
                the corner. While utilities could not legally build NG plants,
                non-utility generators had a huge legal advantage because they could
                burn it and force the utility to buy much of their electricity at
                prices representing HL&P's "next" plant on the drawing board (which
                NEVER WAS BUILT). So much non-utility supply became available, all of
                it burning cheap NG, that HL&P really didn't need STNP for electricity
                supply. But it was started, it was huge, and if they didn't finish it
                then HL&P would never get paid back its investment.

                All SORTS of important things happened which were completely contrary
                to forecasts made during the 1970's.

                Generally the Midwest utilities which wound up burning coal, ended up
                financially in great shape because they simply didn't get on the
                nuclear bandwagon. Those with non-growing population in their service
                territories, also ended up pretty well off because they were not
                forced to make hard choices where every choice was in hindsight, not
                the right one. But utilities building nuclear plants, had to endure
                many changes from the original design after Three Mile Island -- the
                regulators were paralyzed with uncertainty and indecision, and no
                amount of change orders seemed too much to ask. HL&P claimed that
                about 75% of STNP's cost overruns were to comply with mandated design
                changes while the plant was still under construction.

                Oh well, I seem to be going for a second crown as guru of nuclear
                energy on this board <g>. I really do enjoy reading accounts of the
                Oscar Wyatt follies, and hope you enjoy these too.

                Regards -- Mark J.

                P.S. Regarding conservation, I see the best way to effectively
                motivate that is to have the energy price go up, something which is
                clearly happening this year. If gas and oil worldwide are getting hard
                to find, then this will be more of a step change than a roller-coaster
                cycle. Higher prices will tip a number of renewable energy projects
                into feasibility. I don't see renewables growing into the majority,
                but we can share some pleasure at seeing them grow a lot from the
                present level.

                P.P.S. I am cheering at the technology of LNG imports. That is what we
                already know how to use, just price has been a limiting factor until
                the recent price rise. If NG prices stay where they are now, then LNG
                can emerge as an important source of supply -- from what I have read
                maybe 10-15% of the nation's NG needs, not 50-75%. At least NG in any
                form is cleaner than the majority of other fuels.
              • jclem412@aol.com
                For more information, I m sure there are many books and resources. Good idea. I can recommend the video tape, GIANT with James Dean - a wonderful synopsis of
                Message 7 of 25 , Jul 6, 2003
                  For more information, I'm sure there are many books and resources. Good
                  idea. I can recommend the video tape, GIANT with James Dean - a wonderful
                  synopsis of TX oil. It is excellent. Also, read Blood & Money for more history of
                  the Wyatt's. James Michener's TEXAS is also good. I'm sure many of these seem
                  outdated for some of y'all but this is a start for you. Follow-up w/ the TX.
                  Railroad Commission.

                  I could use more suggestions too. ~ Diane Clemens
                • David Funk
                  ... switched ... plant ... wrong ... no problem! mercy is granted! It s called pulverized coal firing and can be adapted to natural gas boilers with
                  Message 8 of 25 , Jul 7, 2003
                    --- In hreg@yahoogroups.com, "mark r. johnson" <mrj53@m...> wrote:
                    > > Older folks will remember
                    > > the details but anyway SA and some other south Texas towns
                    switched
                    > over from
                    > > gas to coal and have been using it ever since.
                    >
                    > I guess by now I am one of the older folks, and this is specialized
                    > knowledge that we *don't* all remember. Actually, I want to express
                    > real skepticism that Wyatt was that influential in the building of
                    > lignite/coal plants in Texas. One cannot "convert" a natural gas
                    plant
                    > to coal, as coal requires some elaborate and expensive machinery to
                    > handle it. I try to stay aware of electric generating technology and
                    > have never heard of a gas plant being converted to coal. If I am
                    wrong
                    > then please have mercy and point me to some education.
                    >



                    <GRIN> no problem! mercy is granted!

                    It's called "pulverized coal firing" and can be adapted to natural
                    gas boilers with 'minimal' modifications to the boiler itself.

                    However, there is extensive, elaborate and expensive machinery
                    required to stock pile the coal, move it to the pulverizer, then
                    inject the very fine, finer than talcum powder, powdered coal, almost
                    like an atomized mist, into the burner. Advantages are complete
                    combustion, minimal to no ash. Sulfur in the flue gases can be
                    treated by passing the flue gases through limestone creating gypsum
                    and carbon dioxide. We know gypsum as sheetrock.


                    David, CEO
                    The GREAT Grand Funk Northern
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