There is a lot you can do with coal. The Neutrino Donut is working with several groups on identifying rare earth metals from coal, for example. A second challenge is the retraining of workers. From the WaPo (and this was buried in the story):
The WaPo had an article on the GM plant shutdowns in the Midwest. The key takeaways were the jobs aren’t coming back, people are waiting for the jobs to come back, and only 30% of the people eligible for training took training. The training is technical, free and has a stipend. The workers said they were too old and the course material was too hard and they dropped out after a week. One guy couldn’t figure out how to install a flash drive.
Retraining is a complex process. Getting people to change everything is not an easy task. A utility I spoke with noted they did not see these issues when they retrained – the workers will still at the same company and had the same “home.”
Energy Secretary Rick Perry suggested Wednesday that he hasn’t given up on finding ways to help economically struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants, even though efforts to date haven’t taken flight.
Why it matters: Competition from cheap natural gas, renewables and other forces are leading to ongoing closures of coal-fired plants, and could prompt more nuclear facilities to shutter in coming years.Show less
- The administration argues this threatens grid security and reliability, although a range of experts dispute the claim.
Perry said the country needs a “stable foundation of electric power that is un-interruptible” and that he wants more discussion.
- “I’ve thrown a lot of jello over at the wall on this one trying to find some solutions that we can all, or at least a majority of us can get behind to support that,” he told reporters.
- “We are looking for the answers to a question that vexes us,” he said in a press conference at CERAWeek.
Where it stands: Early last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejectedPerry’s push for big changes to wholesale power market rules that would guarantee revenues for some coal-fired and nuclear plants.
Since then, the administration has mulled options for using sweeping national security powers to help plants stay open, but it hasn’t gone anywhere.