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Coal not coming back, Appalachian Power chief says

ROANOKE, W.Va. — Coal consumption is not likely to increase, regardless of whether new federal regulations on power plants go into effect, and, from coal’s perspective, the national debate on coal and climate change has largely been lost, the president of West Virginia’s largest electric utility told a roomful of energy executives Tuesday.

The Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, would cut coal consumption — but even if the regulations are blocked, coal consumption will not increase, Appalachian Power President Charles Patton said at the state Energy Summit at the Stonewall Resort.

“You just can’t go with new coal [plants] at this point in time,” Patton said. “It is just not economically feasible to do so.”

Patton acknowledged that entire communities, particularly across Southern West Virginia, are being decimated by coal’s decline. However, he laid out a series of stark economic realities.

By 2026, Patton said, Appalachian Power expects its use of coal power to be down 26 percent, with or without the Clean Power Plan.

That’s because of cheaper alternatives and already-imposed environmental regulations that make coal uncompetitive…

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