NatGas Replaces Coal to Generate Electricity in Steamtown USA

Coal has been a fixture in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area for generations. It is so much a part of the fabric of the community that there is a National Park smack in the middle of downtown Scranton called Steamtown National Historic Site. Railroad engines used to run on coal back in the day–so it figures Scranton was a major nexus for trains–the city was really the coal capital of the northeast. So when natural gas displaced coal at a 50 year-old coal-powered electrical generating plant south of Wilkes-Barre a few years ago, that was interesting and noteworthy. The Hunlock plant was converted to run on natural gas by installing two new turbines. The waste heat from the new turbines now powers the old/original turbine once powered by heat from burning coal. It’s called “combined cycle” electric generation and it’s happening across the United States.

The Obama EPA has demonized coal to the point that electric generating plants are switching (by necessity) to natural gas in large numbers. Hey, *something* has to create electricity–a very small scintilla of electricity comes from so-called alternative sources like wind and solar. Fossil fuels will, for generations to come, bear most of the burden when it comes to creating the electricity that powers your smart phone, lights, and your (*cough*) electric car. That’s the stark reality. The following article is an intriguing look at how utilities convert aging coal-fired electric plants into less-polluting, more efficient natgas-fired plants–in this case plants that run on Marcellus Shale gas…

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