Monday, February 9, 2009

Healy "clean' Coal Info

Tired of Skyrocketing Electricity Costs?

Tell HEA! Stop the Secret Meetings! No Coal!
Support Fixed-Cost Renewable Energy!

THE PROBLEM: The Homer Electric Association (HEA) Board will meet THIS Thursday (Jan. 22) to reconsider its vote to help re-start the long-defunct Healy Coal Plant 2 outside Denali. The meeting will take place behind closed doors during an “executive session.” We need your voice to tell HEA to stop the secret meetings and to say “no” to costly coal and “yes” to fixed-cost renewable power!

What YOU Can DO:

Contact HEA Boardmembers & the HEA General Manager:

Debbie Debnam President (Sterling): 262-9277
Donald Seelinger, Secretary/Treasurer (Seldovia): 399-7573
Bruce Passe, Deputy Secretary (Kenai): 283-4617
William "Bill" Tappan (Kenai): tappassoc (EMAIL@); 260-6961
Tim Evans (Kenai): heatde (EMAIL@); 262-3734
Jose (Tony) Garcia (Nikiski): 394-2489
Brian Hirsch (Homer): hirsch (EMAIL@); 235-6842
J. Michael Pate (Homer): Mike_Pate (EMAIL@); 235-8105
David B. Thomas (Kenai); davidthomashea (EMAIL@); 283-4109
Brad Janorschke, General Manager: bjanorschke (EMAIL@); 235-8551

Talking Points:

* Right-to-Know: HEA has concealed its actions on the Healy Coal Plant through a series of secret negotiations and closed-door executive sessions. HEA is a member-owned cooperative and HEA members have a right-to-know about HEA decisions that will affect our utility rates far into the future. HEA must hold a public forum before moving ahead with any Healy Coal contracts with GVEA and/or AIDEA.

* High Risk: The Healy Coal Plant faces significant and unknown costs from anticipated greenhouse gas and mercury rules. The Obama Administration is committed to enacting new rules that will limit emissions of greenhouse gasses, and the EPA is re-writing new, tougher rules on mercury emissions from coal plants. These new rules will add significant costs that AIDEA and HEA have yet to consider in the final operating costs, and they expose HEA to increased liabilities from litigation. These costs must be quantified before HEA enters any contract with GVEA and/or AIDEA.

* High Cost: The Healy Coal Plant is a black hole for public money. Test runs in 1999 proved the facility has fatal design flaws, and could not provide reliable, low cost and “clean” power. Despite this fact, the recent agreement on HCP will retain this faulty technology. After pouring $300 million into this coal experiment, it makes little sense to throw good money after bad. The HEA Board should review and address the factual basis for GVEA’s original rejection of the Healy Coal Plant before moving forward.
* Higher Rates: The Healy Coal Plant will expose HEA ratepayers to rising electricity costs. Because international markets dictate Alaska coal prices, HEA ratepayers will be subject to the vagaries of fluctuating market conditions. Under the current terms, HEA ratepayers will be forced to buy ½ the power from Healy, regardless of the cost. HEA must evaluate the projected costs for Healy Coal power and how such costs will impact HEA ratepayers before moving forward.

* HEA must look forward to renewable power, not backwards to coal. Alaska boasts enormous renewable energy resources that promise clean, fixed-cost power and sustainable jobs. After capital costs, renewable energy systems produce power on a fixed-cost basis, avoiding the market swings and cost increases that accompany fossil fuel usage. The Bradley Lake hydropower facility in Kachemak Bay is an excellent example how renewable energy can provide clean, fixed-cost power indefinitely. HEA should invest in clean, renewable, fixed-cost power instead of coal.


SUMMARY: On January 13, 2009, the Homer Electric Association (HEA) Board of Directors met in a closed-door executive session to consider a deal to re-start the problem-plagued Healy Coal Plant No. 2 just outside Denali National Park. The very next day, HEA staff attended a press conference in Anchorage, where the Alaska Industrial Development & Export Authority (AIDEA) announced an agreement where AIDEA will sell the facility to Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) for $50 million and HEA will purchase ½ the power it produces – regardless how much that power costs! The HEA Board and staff rushed this decision through after a series of closed-door meetings, and without considering the significant financial and technological hurdles presented by the facility’s dubious technology. If you care about rising utility rates, make time NOW to call your HEA representatives and attend the HEA Rally!

BACKGROUND: The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) owns the Healy Coal Plant No. 2 (HCP) (often referred to as the Healy “Clean Coal” Plant (HCCP)) located just outside the boundaries of Denali National Park. The U.S. Department of Energy selected the HCP as a demonstration project in 1989 to test alternative coal-burning technologies. The HCP was designed to burn coal in stages to minimize the formation of nitrogen and sulfur oxides and particulate matter to reduce air pollution. This decade-old technology, though less polluting than its predecessors, was not designed to mitigate the more recent concerns of mercury and greenhouse emissions. Construction of the 50 megawatt (MW) facility was completed in 1997, and test runs occurred for approximately 6 months in 1998-1999. However, “scaling up” the facility’s laboratory design into an operating power plant proved highly problematic, resulting in frequent shut-downs and various operational disruptions. In 1999, the plant failed a 90 day test to gauge reliability and economic feasibility, and the plant has been shut down since January 2000, because safe, reliable and economic operation was not possible with the experimental technology. Despite over $300 million in capital investments in the HCCP, AIDEA had been engaged in protracted litigation with Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) over power purchase, operations and related issues, and the facility remains idle.

Recent Media Links:

Andrew Halcro, Healy: The Art of the Shady Deal:

Greg Erickson, State scrambles to help Healy beat emission upgrades (Editorial)

Anchorage Daily News Editorial, Our View: Another Healy Deal:

For more information:
Mike O’Meara, HEA Members Forum: 907.399.4022; mikeo (EMAIL@)

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