'Dirty' coal getting reprieve on Wall Street

March 17, 2010
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Indiana and other Rust Belt states have taken a beating over their power plant emissions, but Wall Street is betting coal will win out over some alternative energies in the near term.

Bloomberg News reports that coal stocks are rising while shares of solar-panel companies are falling. The article says the Stowe Global Coal Index, which tracks 38 producers, logged a small gain last year while Bloomberg’s Global Leaders Solar index dropped.

A big majority of analysts who follow Peabody Energy Corp., a St. Louis coal company that operates mines in southwestern Indiana, have “buy” ratings on the stock.

Far fewer analysts who follow Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar Inc., the largest manufacturer of thin-film solar panels, advise buying that stock. (Incidentally, First Solar CEO Rob Gillette holds a finance degree from Indiana University.)

Why are “dirty” coal stocks rising so fast? Perhaps because governments aren’t throwing enough support behind renewable energy, or because rising international competition is crushing solar-panel profits. Failed talks in Copenhagen to limit carbon emissions is another reason.

If coal gets a breather, Indiana might have a chance to build more “clean-coal” power plants like the $2.4 billion gasification project Duke Energy is considering at Edwardsport in southwestern Indiana. Gov. Mitch Daniels and members of his administration have said the state has little realistic choice but to find ways to use its cheap, abundant coal; otherwise, a competitive advantage of cheap electricity will be lost.

How do you feel about coal? Should Indiana bet its future on the mineral?

What about overall progress on wind, solar and other alternative energy? Is it coming fast enough?


  • "Cheap"
    "Cheap"? What do we sacrifice for so-called "cheap" energy provided by coal? Our health and our environment, as well as those of other states that are downwind. Anything we may be "saving" in energy costs we are paying out the wazoo for in various other ways, including illnesses, heathcare costs, lost productivity, and in perpetuating a perception of being a 'backward' state. Hoosiers need to kick the habit of short-sighted tunnel vision more than anything!
  • Utility Regulations
    Utility companies obviously need to be mandated to spend x% of their budget towards creating Alternative Power Investments for the safety of our Country. This is why we call our State Agency, Energy and DEFENSE. The Utility co. are not doing it on their own. Unfortunately our Government is not working for us the people any more, but for the big business and the Utility Companies, otherwise the leaderships would be coming from our local Govâ??t. We need balanced growth patterns, not just out growth. This proven mismanagement is creating even more expense and we need to see Leadership from our State and Cities, creating long term sustainability with reinvestment Pilot Programs for Smart Growth. Via States and Utility Company's partnering together we can make a major impact for generation to come but only with their proactive leadership now. The model of just having one way to do it creates the out growth, and this just cost us too much! We need leaders that can do more than, â??What they have always done, via 8th grade mathâ??. By spending a little on the right things, The Multiplier Effects of Savings and other ways to Make Money is the only way to reduce Gov't. spending. This is Govâ??t being fiscally responsible. Unfortunately the Old School Republicans have not done the math or figured this out yet. It is making me an unhappy republican, but frankly we need smart people managing our Govâ??t reinvesting into more than one old way to do it.
    For our countryâ??s safety, for economic sustainability for all of us, we need Alternatives Sources of Power. Via Loans, Tax Credits, & Grants, Via the Leadership of our States Energy & Defense and the Utility Company's we need Solar Equipment and Utility Co. Net Metering Investments so we can rebuild our core communities, and Country.

  • Check your Facts
    The fuel may be "cheap" but the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission estimates that the plant is expected to have a total estimated average customer rate impact (increase) of about 18 percent.

    Not sure Indiana would not be better off diversifying with other fuel types, renewable or otherwise.

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