The WV Coal Seam

Your Source for News and Information About West Virginia's Coal Industry


Leave a comment

Mon Power & Potomac Edison Invest in Upgrades at Harrison & Fort Martin Stations: Will Keep Coal Plants Working

For Immediate Release:   August 24, 2016

Legislature’s Action Keeps West Virginia Coal Miners Working

CHARLESTON – Earlier this year, the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill that allowed utility companies to fast-track recovery of costs for upgrades to existing power plants if the upgrades help keep West Virginia coal miners working.

The bill is already doing what was intended.

FirstEnergy subsidiaries Mon Power and Potomac Edison recently submitted a request to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) to recover costs for environmental control projects that support the long-term operation of Harrison and Fort Martin Power Stations.

The upgrades are part of FirstEnergy’s investments in emissions control at Harrison and Fort Martin that allow the plants to meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations.  These investments will allow the plants to continue generating low-emitting and affordable electricity, providing well-paying jobs, and contributing significant tax income to surrounding communities.

West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney today offered his thanks to the members of the Legislature for their foresight in passing the legislation.

“West Virginia’s coal industry has suffered a great deal under the Obama Administration over the past eight years,” Raney said. “There are 11,000 coal miners not working today who should be. We have to do whatever we can here in West Virginia to help our electric companies meet the demands imposed on them by a radicalized federal regulatory system. The leaders of the Legislature realize this and are working hard to find ways to keep West Virginians working.  First Energy’s investment in upgrades to their power plants likely wouldn’t have happened and the facilities would simply have been closed had it not been for what the Legislature did earlier this year. We thank them for their efforts to protect West Virginia jobs.”

The Modernization and Improvement Plan (MIP) will help Harrison and Fort Martin achieve ongoing compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) II requirements.

To meet these requirements, 18 projects are planned or underway, including improving electro-static precipitators, installing technology to control mercury and other emissions, improving existing flue gas desulfurization equipment, enhancing continuous emission monitoring, tuning boilers, and improving controls and the selective catalytic reduction system.

If approved, the project will cost an estimated $6.9 million.

-30-


Leave a comment

Current Daily Fuel Mix of Electric Generation Companies

pjm aug 14

By T.L. Headley, MBA, MA

CHARLESTON, W.Va – Despite the news the media pushes, the truth is out there if you look for it.

Taking a look at the latest data from the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission (FERC), coal currently makes up more than half the daily fuel mix for most of the United States.

In some areas it is difficult to determine what the daily fuel mix is because they do not adequately report the fuel mix. This is the case in California and New York. In terms of Miso august 14California, the only fuel mix they report is the renewable content — which only provides about 20 percent of the daily needs. The remaining 80 percent is apparently undisclosed.

 

 

Southwest Power Pool August 14

California ISO August 14, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISO fuel mix August 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Despite Challenges, West Virginia’s Coal Industry will Survive  

By BILL RANEY, president
West Virginia Coal Association

Despite challenging times, West Virginia coal is proud

Sierra Exif JPEG
Bill Raney, WVCA President

to continue to be a major contributor to the State’s economy with its coal being mined by more than 12,000 of the best coal miners in the world, and its use in the efficient and compliant coal-based electric generating plants throughout the State.  We are passionate about doing everything possible to protect our people’s jobs and making sure we continue to be a significant component of our economy.  While we have experienced declining production over the past few years, we are blessed with some of the finest coal in the world and we continue to be the nation’s second leading coal-producing state in the country.

However, we need help as do the other coal-producing states across Appalachia since the industry in West Virginia, and those states surrounding us, is experiencing as challenging of times as anytime in our lifetimes.  Folks point to several reasons for this downturn in production and market, but none are greater than the anti-coal policies of this current federal administration.

While there have historically been ups and downs in the cycle of business, this time is different because our own federal government has never had “its boot on our throat” like they have for the past seven and half years! That negative government interference has created a perfect storm of paralyzing pressures that have taken and continue to threaten the jobs of our people, the mining of our coal, the reliability of America’s electric grid and the very security of our country.

Some want to point to the geologic and geographic challenges resulting from 150 years of mining high-quality bituminous coal that fueled American victories in the World Wars and conflicts of the 20th century as well as the industrial revolution that provided the strong basis for the United States to become the true leader of the free world.  Or, they want to point to the oversupply of natural gas that keeps its price low.  While each of these has a part, the real, overwhelming factor most directly affecting our ability to mine and use more West Virginia coal is, unquestionably, the anti-coal policies of our own federal government. This, in itself, is puzzling and amazing since America has more coal reserves than any other country in the world.

It is only logical to think the federal government, which has, for years, cried for energy security and energy independence, would do everything possible to promote the extraction and use of our most prolific resource.  If there are problems with its extraction or its use, one would, again, logically expect the government to undertake meaningful research and incentives to be sure America would be the world leader in extraction technology, safety and clean-coal based energy usage.

Can anyone imagine Saudi Arabia, Iraq or any of the other Middle Eastern countries treating their oil reserves the way this government is treating American coal reserves?

We will only be able to enhance our production through the increased marketability of our coal and that is all about the cost of production and the ability of our coal to compete domestically and internationally, particularly since we are competing with other countries that mine similar coals, but do not meet American environmental and safety standards.

We’re not asking for nor would we ever seek a diminution of safety or environmental standards as nothing is more important than the well-being of our professional miners and the health and welfare of their families.  However, practicality, as practiced in other states, must be injected into the current policies and laws in effect today as well as those being proposed for the future.

Our coal miners are the best practicing environmentalists in the world as they do everything they can each day to protect the environment they work and live in throughout West Virginia.  We are confident our operations are among the best, if not the best, in the world, from an environmental achievement and safety accomplishment standpoint.

Thanks to our Legislature recognizing the out-of-step cost challenges we face in marketing our coal, there has been a great deal of progress achieved with the laws, regulations and policies in the last two years, here in West Virginia.  However, it is critical that progress with our laws, regulations and policies continue to be made so as to do everything possible to insure they mirror those in the other coal-producing and coal-using states so as to achieve that ever-elusive “level playing field” for cost competitiveness.

We’ll be sure these state-level changes will not diminish nor detract from our desire to be the best in safety and environmental protections, but the changes will allow us to continue to operate so we can improve each day and keep our people working, contributing to their communities and State of West Virginia.

There remains plenty of opportunity for our longtime contributions to continue.  According to the West Virginia Geologic and Economic Survey in Morgantown, West Virginia has some 50 billion tons of remaining coal reserves.  Since we began keeping records, we have mined some 14 billion tons of coal in West Virginia, so we literally have hundreds of years of coal we can mine and continue contributing to the State’s well-being and America’s energy security well into the future.

The ingenuity and devoted work ethic of our miners and managers will find answers to the geologic and geographic challenges, and to the oversupply of natural gas which will likely develop its own set of challenges, but for us to realize that future the behavior and proposed regulations of this federal administration has got to change. This federal administration and the next one have to understand that a working West Virginian is a healthier West Virginia and that our people want to work right here, not in North Carolina, Michigan, Georgia or Florida.  They want to remain here doing what they do best, mining and using West Virginia coal, so they can raise their families where they were raised.

Our miners will protect the streams and mountains, because it’s the ones they fished and hunted when they were growing up and they want their children and grandchildren to have the same rewarding benefit.  There cannot be a higher level of protection than that familial preservation.

We have to create a mechanism that prompts an increased use of West Virginia coal in our West Virginia power plants, but one that does not affect the revenues of the state.  An additional sixteen million tons of West Virginia production would be a tremendous benefit to keep more of our people working.  Similarly, but every bit as challenging, we need to figure a way to reduce the severance tax on West Virginia coal so we can hopefully make up the revenue differences by being more competitive and being able to sell more of our coal.

We will make every effort to work with everyone to reach a reasonable solution to this issue.  However, our biggest problem today is, as mentioned earlier, is the attitude and behavior of our own federal government toward our coal miners and our industry.  There are specific federal issues that need to be changed, reversed and retracted, but the over-reaching problem is the lack of respect shown to our professional coal miners and managers by this administration.

Previous administrations had respect for the West Virginia and American coal miners and managers — and the tremendous job they do every day. The Bushes, Clintons, Reagans, Carters and Nixons, all the way back to President Truman– each of them and their administrations knew that America has more coal than any other country in the world, and they recognized the tremendous contributions West Virginia coal miners – America’s coal miners — made to improve the quality of life of Americans everywhere.  Each of those previous administrations sought to strengthen our country through the electrification of America with coal-powered electricity.

They each knew that our coal provided the reliable, low cost electricity that became the envy of the world, dependable feedstock for domestic steel as well as America’s manufacturing, chemical and technology industries.  They didn’t favor one region over another. They didn’t favor one fuel over another, they were simply depending on the one that would most likely bring energy security for America and improved lifestyles for all Americans.  We must regain that “respect.”

We must recognize the tremendous progress that’s been made with power generation in our state and across the nation. Our utilities and our citizens have taken the lead over the past ten years, providing enhanced air quality, efficient generation and state-of-the-art technologies in a concerted effort to preserve West Virginia jobs and perpetuate our peoples’ health.  Since 2005, in West Virginia, one of our major coal-burning utilities has reduced SO2 by 70 percent, NOx by 64 percent and, unbeknownst to many, CO2 has been reduced by 21 percent!  Our other major coal-burning utility has made similar strides in state-of-the-art technology.  But, of course, none of that progress is recognized by this current federal administration, all to the demise of our people and the economy of our state.

We promise to do everything possible to protect and preserve our people’s jobs, our operations, our power plants and our way of life. We have the support of our Governor, our Attorney General, our Legislative and Congressional leaders as well as many members of the Legislature and many citizens across the state and the nation. With your help and prayers, we will do everything within our power to continue to be as big a part of West Virginia’s economy as possible.


Leave a comment

WVCA Lauds Trump Pledge to Restore American Industrial and Mining Jobs: 

Team of Trump and Cole Provides Leadership We Need to Rebuild our Economy

CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney today issued the following statement lauding presumptive GOP nominee for President Donald Trump for his comments following last night’s victories in the nation’s final primaries.

Sierra Exif JPEG“Last night, Donald Trump made it absolutely clear that he is who we need as president if we want to restore our nation’s economy,” Raney said. “And he reminded us all of what America can be if our industries are allowed to compete on a level playing field.

“As Mr. Trump said in his brief comments following his wrapping up the party’s nomination, ‘Every election year politicians promise change and every year they fail to deliver. And the one thing we have learned is we can’t solve our problems by relying on politicians who have created our problems.’

“For the past eight years, the Obama administration has done everything possible to put our coal miners out of work and destroy the nation’s coal industry, and Hillary Clinton has promised the same thing! We can’t afford another four or eight years  of leaders who have shown themselves willing to destroy our own basic industries while bankrupting our nation.

“Mr. Trump is right, our coal miners – our wonderful and hardworking miners, who have been absolutely and totally mistreated by this administration – deserve respect for the work they have done and continue to do to make this country great.  They absolutely don’t deserve to be the target of ridicule and callous disregard for their economic futures.

“Mr. Trump says he “will reduce regulatory pressures from their current insane levels” and bring an end to the War on Coal.  When this occurs and we return to a situation in which the market determines winners and losers I am certain we can once again compete and restore our coal mining jobs. Our coal is the best in the world. Our coal miners are the best in the world, and given a fair chance, they can compete with anyone, anywhere.”

“Mr. Trump says he is a ‘fighter’ and if he is forced to fight he ‘will never back down.’ Our coal miners are too. We have fought this fight for almost eight years and we will not stop.

“West Virginia is suffering.  America is suffering, but as Mr. Trump says, we CAN turn this around.

“We believe the team of Trump and GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Cole provides the leadership our state and our nation needs as we restore our economy and our people’s faith in the greatness of America.  And yes, it is long past time to put America – and West Virginia – first once again. “

 

 

 


Leave a comment

DON’T FORGET, TODAY IS ELECTION DAY – VOTE FOR COAL!

A Message from the West Virginia Coal Association

 
CHARLESTON – Today is the primary election in West Virginia. The polls opened this morning at 6 a.m. and close at 8: 00 p.m. this evening.  WVCA President Bill Raney released the following comments:
“We can honestly say that never in the history of our state has a single election been more important. We are choosing offices all the way from the county courthouse to the White House, “ Raney said. “And the very future of our state and our state’s leading industry ride, in large part, on the outcome of this vote.  We would also urge you specifically to vote for Beth Walker in the race for Supreme Court.  Today’s election will determine who will be the next justice.  It is important to remember there is no general election in November for the Supreme Court.”

Following is a list of our endorsements for today’s election. Make a difference today! Vote Coal!

http://www.wvcoal.com/latest/don-t-forget-today-is-election-day-vote-for-coal.html


2 Comments

West Virginia Coal Association Endorses Trump for President

By BILL RANEY, president
West Virginia Coal Association

donald-trump-mug_5fea106e0eb494469a75e60d8f2b18ea.nbcnews-fp-320-320CHARLESTON – The membership of the West Virginia Coal Association today announced it is endorsing Donald Trump, Republican of New York, for the office of president of the United States in this year’s election.  The unanimous decision was made at a membership meeting in Charleston earlier today.

“Donald Trump has been firm and clear throughout his campaign in his commitment to rebuild America’s basic industries – the industries that made this country great – such as coal, steel and manufacturing” said Bill Raney, WVCA president, in announcing the endorsement. “Trump has said he will reverse the Democratic regulatory assault that has cost the coal industry more than 40 percent of our production and jobs since 2008.”

“In contrast, Hillary Clinton’s proposals essentially double-down on the job killing Obama policies,” Raney continued. “West Virginia can’t afford that and neither can the nation.”

“We believe that with the leadership team of Donald Trump in the White House and Bill Cole as Governor, West Virginia will begin to rebuild what we have lost to the Obama War on Coal and also look to the future once again with confidence.”

Bill Raney is president of the West Virginia Coal Association, a trade association in Charleston, West Virginia, representing approximately 95 percent of the state’s coal production.


Leave a comment

CITIZENS FOR COAL ASKING OUR AREA CHURCHES TO RECOGNIZE OUR COAL MINERS

Citizens for Coal asks that our area churches join us BOOTSin recognizing our state’s 11,000 laid off coal miners, their families and those whose jobs depend on coal.
We are asking that you place a pair of coal miners boots at the door of your church so that people will see them when they come in for services.
For far too many people in our state, coal mining is something someone else does, but every community in our state is feeling the fallout of the war on coal.
We ask that you remember the hard work that our miners have done to bring us the comforts we enjoy today.
A pair of mine boots at the door would serve as a silent reminder of that hard work and sacrifice. Let them know you recognize their work and their sacrifice.
We ask that you do this and share photos of your boots on this page.


Leave a comment

Coal Association VP thinks Manchin should not support Garland nomination

By Alex Wiederspiel in News | April 05, 2016 at 6:43PM

CLARKSBURG, Chris-HamiltonW.Va. — Chris Hamilton, the Vice President of the West Virginia Coal Association, does not think Senator Joe Manchin should need any additional input on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Justice Garland is a sitting judge on the D.C. Circuit, and he’s had a number of EPA cases before him,” Hamilton said Tuesday on the MetroNews-affiliated “The Mike Queen Show” on the AJR News Network. “And he has, almost without exception, upheld the agency’s rules, rule making, and requirements that it has proposed and implemented.”

The WV Coal Association sent an open letter to Senator Manchin expressing their disapproval of the nominee.

“We’d like to see Senator Manchin join with the core of U.S. senators who have vowed not to seat Justice Garland,” he said.

Garland has been at the center of a largely partisan fight between Democrats and Republicans in Washington D.C. over whether or not the Senate would hold any confirmation hearings–or even meet with Garland–following his nomination to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

Hamilton said his association wouldn’t support a nomination that supported the Clean Power Plan, which is facing myriad legal challenges.

“That’s what prompted the letter to Senator Manchin,” he said. “Just remind him of the fact that this Clean Power Plan remains as this President’s center piece of his Administration.”

Hamilton was quick to blame the EPA and the Obama Administration for the losses suffered by the coal industry.

“That program has resulted in the complete decimation of the state’s coal industry, shutting down record number of mines, laying off of thousands and thousands of miners practically just destroying our state’s economy,” he said.

Senator Manchin reportedly met with Garland on Tuesday.

Since President Obama announced Garland as the nominee, Manchin held a town hall in Charleston to discuss it with constituents.

He also vowed not to support the nomination if Garland was “adamantly entrenched” against the fossil fuel industry.

 

 


1 Comment

U.S. Coal Production Off 38 Percent from 2015

Weekly Coal Production & Price Report (March 31, 2016)

Coal Commodity Region/Fuel Avg. BTU SO2 Price Price/mmBTU
Central Appalachia 12,500 1.2  $      42.25  $               1.69
Northern Appalachia 13,000 3  $      48.60  $               1.87
Illinois Basin 11,800 5  $      32.20  $               1.36
Powder River Basin 8,800 0.8  $        9.45  $               0.54
Uinta Basin 11,700 0.8  $      38.05  $               1.63
Natural Gas (Henry Hub)

n/a

0.01

n/a

 $               1.79

By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MA

CHARLESTON – According to the latest reports from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), coal production in the U.S. continues to slide, finishing the week off by 38 percent from 2015 totals. Meanwhile spot prices for coal continue to hold steady as they have for the past month. Natural gas spot prices, however, continue to slide.

According to the EIA’s April 1, 2016 weekly report, U.S. coal production for the week totaled just 11.60 million tons, down from 18.84 million tons for the same week in 2015. Year to date production totaled just 157.27 million tons, down from 227.45 million tons (down 30.9 percent). And for the previous 52 weeks, production was off by 17.4 percent, down from 819.97 million tons from 992.90 million tons in 2015.

The decline in coal production was reflected in rail car loadings, which were off 37.8 percent from for the week to just 66,281. This decline in rail traffic is almost entirely due to the decline in coal production and has resulted in both major eastern rail systems announcing major restructurings. CSX recently announced it is closing its regional headquarters in Huntington, West Virginia. Norfolk Southern likewise announced it is closing the Bluefield, West Virginia offices.

Coal exports for the month of January (the most recent data available) were sharply below last year. Metallurgical coal exports are off by 38.5 percent from January 2015 and steam coal exports are off by 54 percent. Imports of coal into the U.S were down for the month by 46.4 percent.

Electric output was down 4.6 percent compared to the same week last year, with 67,690 MWH of electricity produced compared to 70,933 MWH produced for the same period last year.

Domestic steel output was up was up from the previous week.

According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, in the week ending March 26, 2016, domestic raw steel production was 1.68 million net tons while the capability utilization rate was 71.6 percent. Production was 1.60 million net tons in the week ending March 26, 2015 while the capability utilization then was 67.7 percent. The current week production represents a 4.6 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 26, 2016 is up 0.4 percent from the previous week ending March 19, 2016 when production was 1.69 million net tons and the rate of capability utilization was 71.3 percent.

Adjusted year-to-date domestic raw steel production through March 26, 2016 was 21.5 million net tons, at a capability utilization rate of 70.3 percent. That is down 3.4 percent from the 22.3 million net tons during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 72.1 percent.

In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins report significant decreases from 2015.

The Appalachian Basin finished the week at 2.81 million tons, down from 4.83 million tons in 2014 (-42 percent). Interior Basin production also finished the week down, at 2.19 million tons compared to 3.51 million tons last year (-38 percent). Western production finished the week at 6.60 million tons from 10.30 million tons last week (-36 percent).  All three basins remain down significantly for the previous 52 weeks, with the Appalachian Basin off 23.1 percent, the Interior Basin off 17.3 percent and the Western Basin off 14.7 percent.

According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state stands at 11.66 million tons through March 24th. Of that total, 9.66 million tons was mined by underground operations and 2.01 million tons was produced by surface mining. Only 62 mines have reported production in December2015. Several large operations have idled production due to financial restructuring or in response to slack demand.

However, according to WVOMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia has fallen sharply to just 11,907 total active miners, with 9,782 working underground and 2,125 working on surface operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis.

According to EIA, West Virginia coal production for the week totaled 1.23 million tons, off from 2.11 million tons for the same week in 2015 – down 42 percent.

Production was down in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to the same week in 2015 by 39 percent and 45 percent respectively. For the week, northern West Virginia production finished up at 628,000 tons versus 617,000 tons last week and 1.03 million tons last year. Southern West Virginia, however, finished down at 601,000 tons versus 588,000 tons last week and 1.07 million tons a year ago.

Coal production in Kentucky ended the week at 774,000 tons produced, down from the 1.31 million tons from 2015. Eastern Kentucky coal operations finished the year at 344,000 tons, down from 596,000 tons. Meanwhile, western Kentucky coal operations finished at 431,000 tons versus 710,000 tons in 2015.

Wyoming coal production finished the week at 4.92 million tons versus 7.73 million tons in 2015, off by 36 percent.

Illinois coal production finished the week at 839,000 tons versus 1.3 million tons for the same week in 2015.  Indiana production, however, fell significantly, finishing at 461,000 tons versus 734,000 tons for the month a year ago. Ohio production finished the week at 205,000 tons versus 398,000 tons for the week in 2015. Pennsylvania production was down, finishing the week at 634,000 tons versus 1.1 million tons in 2014. Virginia coal production continues to tall, finishing the year down at 140,000 tons versus 286,000 tons for the year in 2015.

Coal prices on the spot market were unchanged this week. Central Appalachian coal finished the week at $42.25 per ton or $1.69 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal also finished unchanged, coming in at $48.60 per ton or $1.87 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal held steady at $32.20 per ton or $1.36 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal remained at $9.45 per ton or $0.55 per mmBtu. Uinta Basin coal prices finished unchanged at $38.05 per ton or $1.63 per mmBtu.

Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub also held steady this week to finish at $1.79 per mmBtu. Natural gas producers reported a significant decline in their stored reserves – at 2.47 trillion cubic feet, down by 25 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 3.48 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count is down by 12 from last week to 464 working rigs. And the count remains down by 584 rigs from a year ago – a decline of 21%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

About the Author: T.L. Headley is a veteran public relations expert and former journalist with more than 20 years in mass communications with a focus on energy. Headley has an MBA in finance and management and an MA in journalism. He is the principal for Genesis Communications and is a public relations consultant for several major coal and energy organizations in West Virginia. Headley is also a 2001 graduate of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership West Virginia program.


Leave a comment

11,000: The Casualties of the War on Coal

By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MA

11,000….Boots

That’s how many West Virginia coal miners have lost their jobs in the past seven years.

That’s 11,000 families whose lives were turned upside down by the policies of the Obama Administration and the National Democratic Party.

And each one of those 11,000 jobs supported another 5 jobs… that’s another 55,000 jobs and another 55,000 families.

When you stop to consider that most of these people were in the prime years of their lives, most had kids, mortgages, truck payments, they were saving for college, saving for retirement….

Their taxes paid for schools, for roads, for water and sewer lines. They paid for sheriff’s deputies and programs for senior citizens.

Today, those jobs are gone and so are the taxes…

This is the legacy of the Obama Administration, the national Democratic Party and the radicals who control the EPA.  Over the next few months, we are going to be making a decision about who will lead our state and nation forward for the next eight years.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would continue Obama’s anti-coal policies and, double down on them, costing even more coal jobs . We can’t afford that.
We aren’t telling you who to vote for…. but we can tell you who NOT to vote for if you care about our state and its future.  A vote for Clinton or Sanders will destroy our state … it’s that simple….

Make your votes count … choose wisely.