Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Deaths from dirty coal-fired power plants cost more than the value of the electricity

EIP Report: Cost Of Deaths From 18 Coal-Fired Power Plants' Pollution Higher Than Value Of Electricity Generated

Yates Plant in Georgia Is Found Most Out of Balance in Terms of Social Cost/Produced Electricity Value; "Net Loss" Analysis Highlights Premature Mortality Linked to Coal-Fired Power Plants in 13 States: AL, GA, KY, MI, MO, NC, OH, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, and WV.

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Up to 5,700 deaths a year can be attributed to 51 of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the United States with no announced plans for sulfur dioxide (SO2) clean-up measures, according to a new report from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). Even using the most conservative estimate, the estimated cost to society of the premature deaths caused by 18 of the power plants actually exceeded the retail value of the electricity generated by each facility in 2011. (See the full list below.)

Available online at http://www.environmentalintegrity.org, the new report titled, "Net Loss: Comparing the Cost of Pollution vs. the Value of Electricity from 51 Coal-Fired Plants," reviews U.S. coal-fired power plants with the largest emissions of sulfur dioxide in 2010 and 2011 that do not yet have plans to install or upgrade scrubbers. For the report, Dr. Jonathan Levy of the Boston University School of Public Health estimated the premature deaths in 2011 due to fine particle exposures caused by emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter from each of these plants, using a peer-reviewed approach consistent with EPA methods and an upper and lower bound for premature mortality based on two benchmark studies the EPA has relied upon in rulemaking.

Key findings include:
  • The 51 plants contributed to between 2,700 and 5,700 premature deaths in 2011 alone.
  • Estimated pollution-related premature deaths were highest at the following plants: Labadie, MO (140 to 290); Eastlake, OH (120 to 240); Yates, GA (110 to 220); Martin Lake, TX (100 to 220); and Mill Creek, KY (100 to 210).
  • Applying the same standard statistical value for human life used by EPA, the 2,700-5,700 premature deaths identified in the report are linked to social costs of $23 to $47 billion.
  • Using the most conservative benchmark in the study, 18 of the 51 plants in this survey contribute to premature deaths that cost society more than the estimated retail value of the electricity they generated in 2011. When using the upper bound to estimate premature deaths, an additional 20 plants had social costs exceeding the estimated retail value of their electricity in 2011.
Eric Schaeffer, director, Environmental Integrity Project said: "A closer look suggests that the social cost of many of the dirtiest plants far outweighs the value of the energy they produce. Coal helped to power America's industrial revolution, and electricity is obviously vital to our economy today. But we have better choices now than we had more than forty years ago, when most of these plants were built. Investments in advanced emission controls can greatly reduce the dangerous buildup of fine particles, and investments in renewable energy and efficiency improvements can secure our supply of electricity - and generate the jobs we need - without the death and disease that are the price we pay for dirty coal plants."

Jonathan Levy, professor of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, said: "My analysis estimates that fine particulate matter concentrations attributable to the 51 power plants I was asked to review contributed to between 2,700 and 5,700 premature deaths in 2011. This was based on reported emissions data and outputs based on my peer-reviewed model of health damages from power plants. The relationship between fine particulate matter pollution and premature mortality is well established, and the data are sufficient to provide a reasonable estimate of the number of premature deaths that will result from power plant emissions that increase fine particulate matter concentrations."

For example, Dr. Levy estimates that fine particle pollution from the Southern Company's Yates plant in Georgia contributed to between 100 and 220 deaths in 2011, at a cost to society of between 800 million and 1.8 billion dollars. The retail value of the electricity the plant generated in 2011 was estimated to be roughly $400 million, which means that the social cost of premature mortality caused by the plant's pollution was between $450 million and $1.4 billion greater than the value of the electricity it generated.

In order, the full list of the 18 coal-fired power plants mentioned above is as follows:
  1. Yates Steam Generating Plant, Coweta County, GA; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$461 million; 2011 premature deaths: 100 - 220; cost of premature deaths: $870 - $1800 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $409 million.
  2. Eastlake Power Plant, Lake County, OH; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$375 million; 2011 premature deaths: 120 - 240; cost of premature deaths: $980 - $2000 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $605 million.
  3. Green River Generating Station, Muhlenberg County, KY; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$299 million; 2011 premature deaths: 44 - 88; cost of premature deaths: $360 - $730 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $61 million.
  4. Johnsonville Fossil Plant, Humphreys County, TN; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$269 million; 2011 premature deaths: 85 - 170; cost of premature deaths: $700 - $1400 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $431 million.
  5. Kammer Plant, Marshall County, WV; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$260 million; 2011 premature deaths: 48 - 98; cost of premature deaths: $400 - $810 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $140 million.
  6. Mill Creek Generating Station, Jefferson County, KY; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$226 million; 2011 premature deaths: 100 - 210; cost of premature deaths: $870 - $1700 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $644 million.
  7. Greene County Steam Plant, Greene County, AL; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$190 million; 2011 premature deaths: 49 - 100; cost of premature deaths: $410 - $850 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $220 million.
  8. Canadys Steam Electric Generating Plant, Colleton County, SC; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$162 million; 2011 premature deaths: 37 - 75; cost of premature deaths: $300 - $620 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $138 million.
  9. Yorktown Power Station, York County, VA; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$156 million; 2011 premature deaths: 34 - 68; cost of premature deaths: $280 - $570 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $124 million.
  10. Nelson Dewey Generating Station, Grant County, WI; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$132 million; 2011 premature deaths: 29 - 61; cost of premature deaths: $240 - $500 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $108 million.
  11. Jack McDonough Steam Generating Plant, Cobb County, GA; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$119 million; 2011 premature deaths: 40 - 82; cost of premature deaths: $330 - $680 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $211 million.
  12. Trenton Channel Power Plant, Wayne County, MI; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$102 million; 2011 premature deaths: 56 - 110; cost of premature deaths: $460 - $950 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $358 million.
  13. Phil Sporn Power Plant, Mason County,WV; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$102 million; 2011 premature deaths: 27 - 53; cost of premature deaths: $220 - $440 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $118 million.
  14. L V Sutton Steam Plant, New Hanover County, NC; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$75 million; 2011 premature deaths: 24 - 48; cost of premature deaths: $200 - $400 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $125 million.
  15. H F Lee Steam Electric Plant, Wayne County, NC; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$58 million; 2011 premature deaths: 19 - 39; cost of premature deaths: $160 - $330 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $102 million.
  16. Big Brown Steam Electric Station, Freestone County, TX; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$54 million; 2011 premature deaths: 94 - 200; cost of premature deaths: $780 - $1700 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $726 million.
  17. Shawnee Fossil Plant, McCracken County, KY; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$23 million; 2011 premature deaths: 70 - 140; cost of premature deaths: $580 - $1200 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $557 million.
  18. Meramec Power Plant, Saint Louis County, MO; 2011 net value (retail sales - cost of premature deaths): -$13 million; 2011 premature deaths: 57 - 110; cost of premature deaths: $470 - $950 million; 2011 retail value of electricity: $457 million.
Coal-fired power plants are a major source of this pollution, which is caused by sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and unburned particles released from boiler stacks. Fine particle exposure is starting to decline in many areas, as utilities install scrubbers and other equipment to meet long-delayed Clean Air Act requirements. But some plants have yet to install the advanced pollution controls that have been commercially available for many years.

SOURCE Environmental Integrity Project, Washington, D.C.
Web Site: http://www.environmentalintegrity.org

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