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DOE: Coal Regs to Hike Price of Electricity '70-80%'

Matt Vespa
By Matt Vespa | February 13, 2014 | 11:14 AM EST

During the House hearing, "Department of Energy Oversight: Status of Clean Coal Programs," Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) asked Dr. Julio Friedmann, the deputy assistant secretary for clean coal at the Department of Energy, about the additional costs carbon capture and storage technology would bring to coal plants.

"My generic question is pretty straightforward.  All of these carbon capture sequestration technologies - add cost to these coal plants could y'all give the committee, or the subcommittee, kind of a baseline estimate of how much it adds to the cost, does it double the cost, does it increase it by 25%, 50%, what's the generic estimate?" Rep. Barton asked.

"The precise number will vary by plant, whether it's sub-critical or supercritical, by coal rank, and by the kind of technology used," said Friedman

Concerning the first generation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to be implemented, Friedman added" we're looking at something on the order of $70-90 a ton. In that context, that looks something like a 70-80% increase on the wholesale price of electricity."

In short, that's a knife to the throat for the American middle class.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R- Pennsylvania) reiterated that statistic in his opening remarks saying, "The costs to produce electricity have to come down by a large amount to make any successfully demonstrated CCS systems commercially viable in the open market. The first generation CCS technology -- because of increased capital and operating costs and decreased electricity produced for the electric grid -- has been estimated to increase the cost of electricity significantly. At a coal gasification facility, the cost of electricity may be increased by 40 percent; at a pulverized coal power plant, by upwards of 80 percent. This is what DOE's own documents tell us."

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