Cogeneration plants in the US state of Pennsylvania are struggling as a result of a combination of sluggish economy and cheaper gas.
Citizens’ Voice reports that CHP plants in the state who usually burn coal waste are feeling the effects of the decline in coal, being unable to sell the electricity it generates and stay economically afloat.
The Anthracite Region Independent Power Producers Association, a trade association representing Pennsylvania’s 14 generating plants, urged members of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee who held a public hearing in Jim Thorpe on Tuesday morning to preserve a recently-adopted tax credit measure that is set to increase from $7.5 million to $10 million per year in 2017 — and to explore other opportunities for economic support and regulatory relief that would help to keep the plants operating.
Matt Cochran, asset manager for Olympus Power, which owns and operates Panther Creek, said the tax credit will allow Panther Creek and other cogeneration plants to bring in coal waste fuel from further away and still make money.
“It allows us to reduce the cost of the waste coal for processing on-site,” Cochran said. “It helps us to reduce our overall operating expenses. It’s been monumental for us.”
George Ellis, ARIPPA’s executive director, said his organization conducted a study that showed there are many economic benefits to cogeneration.
“We are an economic engine,” Ellis said. “The study found that we benefited the state, from an environmental standpoint, $26 million a year over 20 years. We pay $20 million a year in taxes and fees. We generate annual economic benefits of $740 million.”
State Sen. John Yudichak D-14, Plymouth Township, said if the cogeneration industry went away, the task of reclaiming the remaining 300 million acres of scarred mine land will fall back on the people of Pennsylvania.
The cogeneration industry in Pennsylvania includes 800 direct and 4,400 indirect jobs.