Alert 666: No new coal plant for the Delaware Electric Cooperative

Tell the Delaware Electric Cooperative:  No New Coal Plant!
Tell it to Bill Andrew, President and CEO:

Speak out at the Coop Annual Meeting:  Tuesday, August 11 th at the Delaware State Fairgrounds

Are you a Coop member and willing to help?  Please contact Green Delaware

Ask Gov. Markell–who plans to be at the DEC annual meeting–to walk his talk and oppose the new coal burner:, 800.292.9570

By now, most people likely know that coal burning is a key cause of global warming as well as human death and disease, and needs to be phased out as soon as possible.

This understanding apparently does not yet extend to the Delaware Electric Cooperative (DEC) and its energy supplier, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC).  These two coops, along with others supplied by Old Dominion, are promoting a huge new 1500 megawatt coal burner in Surrey County, Virginia.  They just don’t get it.

Rural electric coops, like DEC, have made many contributions to American life, by bringing power to customers private utilities like Delmarva Power didn’t want to serve.  Unfortunately, their environmental records are even worse than private utilities.

Health and climate-damaging emissions

The emissions numbers for the DEC supported proposed “Cypress Creek” burner, taken from permit applications and other ODEC publications, are startling:

Emissions of climate-changing carbon dioxide would be 14.6 million tons per year.  Emissions of health damaging air pollutants are estimated in the permit applications to be about 42 million pounds per year = 114,000 pounds per day = 4700 pounds per hour.  Most of these would be belched from 615 foot smokestacks, enabling them to travel long distances.  The pollutants include 20 million pounds annually of carbon monoxide, 7.4 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, 5.4 million pounds of particulate matter–dust, 566,000 pounds of sulfuric acid, 920 pounds of  lead, 118 pounds of mercury, among others. All these are regulated because they are proven to cause illness, death, reduced intelligence in children, birth defects, and other major problems.

Like many new coal proposals, Cypress Creek is “greenwashed” with claims that it will also burn “biomass.”  The proposed amount is two percent and emissions would increase from adding it to the coal.

A 2004 report estimated that “fine particle pollution from U.S. power plants cuts short the lives of nearly 24,000 people each year, including 2800 from lung cancer., and “Power plant pollution is responsible for 38,200 non-fatal heart attacks per year,”and “Hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer each year from asthma attacks, cardiac problems, and respiratory problems associated with fine particles from power plants. These illnesses result in tens of thousands of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and lost work days each year.”  A more recent report says particles kill 18,000 people each year in California alone.

This doesn’t count the tens of thousands of children dumbed down by mercury emissions from coal burning, the harm done by mining the coal, especially “Mountaintop Removal,” the harm done by dumping the ash without proper precautions, and so on.  Coal is a nightmare.

There can be no doubt that the Cypress Creek burner, if built, would kill and injure thousands of people.

Unwise investment–potential economic nightmare for DEC members

In addition to these health and environmental problems, the proposed “Cypress Creek” burner is a potential economic nightmare to coop members.  DEC and the other ODEC member coops are reportedly being asked to sign 45 year contracts (to 2054) to pay for it.  The estimated cost is 4-8 billion dollars.  Independent reports have shown that the need for it has not been justified, and coop members have been given very little objective background information.

No one knows, at this time, exactly how carbon emissions from coal burners will be regulated.  But it is certain that they WILL be regulated, long before 2054, and this will greatly increase the relative cost of coal electricity.  Should DEC members be burdened with this undetermined liability, when so many better options exist?

Even now, without carbon costs, the cost of energy efficiency (“negawatts”) is around one-third the cost of new coal electricity.   The billions that would be spent on a new coal burner should instead be spent on conservation and efficiency.

What will Governor Markell do at the Coop Annual Meeting?

Governor Jack Markell recently signed Senate Bill 106, calling for an annual two percent reduction in electricity use in Delaware.  Markell has said this is the centerpiece of his energy policy.  Bill Andrew, President of DEC, told us he didn’t “think SB 106 will make much difference to the Coop.”  Who is right?  How serious is Markell?  Green Delaware thinks if Markell is serious, he should speak out against the new DEC coal plant.  Markell has indicated in a press release that he’ll be at the Coop Annual meeting at 5:00 PM.  Ask him!, 800.292.9570

Years ago, I suggested in the Delaware State News that DEC should invest in conservation and efficiency programs in its own service area, benefiting members and local businesses, rather than send this money our of state to buy nuclear power from Virginia.   Investment on the “demand side” yields far more employment and other economic benefits than investment in burning fuel.  DEC management didn’t appreciate the suggestions and responded that I didn’t appreciate the fine lifestyle of Sussex County.   Not much, apparently, has changed except that the plans now are for coal rather than nuclear power.

DEC/ODEC have no more right to pollute Virginia than NRG or Conectiv have to pollute Delaware.

Organizations opposed to the Cypress Creek coal burner include Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Southern Environmental Law Center, the Coalition To Keep Surry Clean, and the Wise Energy for Virginia coalition.  Delawareans, regardless of whether they are coop members, should help by opposing Cypress Creek or any other ODEC coal project.  This is your opportunity to speak out!

Details of the DEC Annual Meeting:
Delaware State Fairgrounds, Harrington, Delaware  Map
3:00 registration opens
Chicken dinner for members (Dover Building)
7:00 business meeting (Centre Ice Rink)

Green Delaware has asked permission to make a statement at the Annual meeting.  You can email Bill Andrew supporting this request.

Are you a Coop member and willing to help?  Please contact Green Delaware


Alan Muller

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *