8% higher heating costs for Milwaukee Downtown area business as a coal plant is converted to natural gas for lower CO2 emissions – story via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. An attempt is made to include $20 million in operational savings that the plant operators have discovered – but there is no connection drawn between the two.
The story tries to assign cause equally to lower natural gas prices and environmental regulations – neglecting the fact that it is the increased environmental regulations that are mostly to blame for higher costs of coal.
The switchover will also cost 50 jobs. Not included in the story is how many of these jobs are lost due to improvements in automation that could have happened without the switch vs those that are lost due to the ease of natural gas combustion.
A Sierra Club member is quoted as saying: “This is what happens when people use their power together.” Indeed. The cost of doing business in Milwaukee just got higher. Note the list of businesses affected by the higher costs: Hotels and MillerCoors.
Finally – “In discussions with investors, We Energies executives have said the company’s move to upgrade its plants before other utilities around the country have to do so, positions its customers to have competitive rates when utilities around the country make the sizable investments to upgrade or convert their coal plants.” Yep – electricity rates across the state are going to rise due to the increased environmental regulations.
50 direct jobs lost; unknown quantity of indirect jobs lost due to higher electricity rates.