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Sitting around the campfire with Jim

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  • Jon Kennedy
     Oil — coal — natural gas — wind — solar, and nuclear power generation Blog ENTRY 20 | September 6 2013 As you may have seen about the war
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 5, 2013
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      Oil  coal  natural gas  wind 
      solar, and nuclear power generation

      Blog ENTRY 20 | September 6 2013

      As you may have seen about the war on coal, the industry is not able to compete with other suppliers with the regulations that are in effect, not to even mention the ones still set to take effect. It kind of makes me wonder about all the power supplies that we have.

      One of my brothers has been in the nuclear power industry for many years. He earned his training in the U.S. Navy submarine forces. He stopped by here recently on his way back home from a corporate meeting. Being in the industry most of his life, he has seen it go up and down. But this time it does not look like there will be an "up" again anytime soon.

      We see coal mines closing. We see natural gas drilling getting up and going faster then we can keep pace. New wind mills are going up all over our area. But where does it all end? After a long talk with my brother, and me being one who just has to know, I went on a research project that sent me to where no one person should ever go. IT IS NEVER ENDING.

      But here is what I have found.

      Coal is expensive because of start-up costs, along with the high transportation of the coal and then disposal of the ashes, storage costs, and EPA regulations.

      Think oil is not used in coal production? Guess what is used to start a coal plant up after it is down for an outage. I was astonished at what it takes to start those babies up!

      Nuclear power: Now here's something interesting. If you study it, you find that nuclear is the backbone of our electrical grid system. But nuclear plants are taking a big hit, too. Most plants are not making much profit these days.

      So why are there so many closures? My research found some interesting stuff. Wind and solar are not reliable as they go up and down in generation. You have to make sure the grids are stable, and for that you have to turn to other sources. The big thing right now is natural gas! With all the fracking going on and the supply so high, no other segment of the energy industry can compete: Gas is so cheap.

      Here's an interesting fact: Houston has enough gas under it to supply all of Texas for 50 years.

      Now to the point. If you see a new well being installed for natural gas, go back in a few months and see what's there; nothing but a little pump box. Landfills are producing gas. What is there but a few pipes out of the ground? Is Natural Gas really putting jobs on the block and, if so, for how long? Till we don't need any more wells? Then what? Another round of layoffs as we don't need these people? What about all the people in the other industries that are already laid off?

      The Gamesa wind turbine plant in Ebensburg has already started layoffs. You eventually run out of places to put new windmills. So you build a cheap plant somewhere else. That is what they did here when they closed the plant near Philly. Interesting to know they are already looking at property at another location.

      Yes we need to save our environment. Yes we need to slow the use of oil. But all these markets need to stay competitive. They need to keep the jobs they have. Maybe it's time we let our leaders know how we feel and to look at the long term. I do not see an end in sight to the layoffs in our energy industry.

      — Jim
      Jon R. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis Writer in Residence
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