Findley: Carbon capture mandates are shortsighted and hurt Wyoming taxpayers | Columns


Carbon capture technology is extremely expensive and has failed miserably at the two power plants in North America where it has been tested. At the Petra Nova plant in Texas, carbon capture operations required so much energy that NRG Energy built a completely separate natural gas-fired power plant – whose emissions were not offset by Petra Nova technology – just to power the scrubber, then the plant was shut down in 2020 as it turned out to be unprofitable and unreliable. And at the Boundary Dam power plant in Saskatchewan, adding carbon capture to just one of the generators cost more than $ 1.5 billion, and it has still failed to remain reliable or achieve its carbon capture targets.

Rocky Mountain Power, the largest utility serving Wyoming, modeled carbon capture in all Wyoming coal units in its 2021 biannual resource supply plan, but did not choose it as the best option because it did not fulfill its mandate to provide electricity at the lowest cost. and the least risk. In fact, they found that reasonable investment costs for carbon capture would need to drop by at least 33%, or revenues from captured carbon dioxide would have to increase by at least 84%, to break even. economic.

To encourage utilities to keep coal plants open and experiment with expensive carbon capture, the HB 200 allows utilities to recoup the costs of carbon capture investments by adding those costs to the tariffs that Wyoming customers pay for their electricity. To soften the deal further, lawmakers said utilities can seek an even higher than normal rate of return on these investments, and utilities don’t need to share the profits from the sale of the dioxide. of carbon captured with their customers. The bill explicitly says that these profits, along with the profits from the higher rate of return on equity, can go to utility shareholders. Of course, since other states don’t want overpriced coal-based power, they won’t allow utilities to add those costs to the rate base for their state’s customers. This means Wyoming taxpayers are forced to foot the entire bill, and we could see our electricity rates skyrocket in a misguided attempt to keep coal alive.


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