Today we made the announcement that we will phase out coal at the cogeneration facility by May 1, 2020. I was joined by Bruce Nilles of the Sierra Club; Tim Toben who chairs our Energy Task Force; and Stewart Boss, representing the Beyond Coal student effort, for the announcement.
We agreed with the students and the Sierra Club that we should get away from coal, but it took some big thinking to come up with a way that makes financial sense. I was glad we got everyone to come together.
We had a particularly interesting challenge on this, because our cogeneration plant has a usable life of 30 to 40 years. So, simply building another plant that burns a different fuel doesn’t make sense. Carolyn Elfland and Ray DuBose from Energy Services came up with a great solution, which is to burn biomass in the current boilers. Biomass produces only 8 percent of the greenhouse gases of coal.
Over the next 10 years, we’ll have to figure out how to make biomass work in the boilers and how to make sure we can get enough of it to run the cogen plant. I know we can do it.
Carolina innovates again.