Energy In-depth: Bloomberg Gifts Sierra Club $30 Million For ‘Beyond Coal’ Efforts

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 115 views 

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Bloomberg Philanthropies announced this week that it will invest $30 million in the Sierra Club to secure the replacement of half the nation’s coal fleet by 2017 with clean energy.The funding from the philanthropic arm of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the founder of a global data and media company, Bloomberg LP, and former mayor of New York City, will add to the foundation’s previous $50 million commitment to Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.Glen Hooks, executive director of the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club, said the environmental group’s Beyond Coal campaign has been working hard in Arkansas for years to “retire dirty coal-fired power plants and move toward a clean energy future.”“(This) major investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies will allow us to continue moving Arkansas away from dirty coal power and toward an Arkansas powered by clean, renewable energy,” Hooks said.

Bloomberg said in the press release that the single biggest reduction in carbon pollution in the U.S. has come by retiring and repurposing coal-fired power plants – “and that’s the direct result of our Beyond Coal campaign.”

According to the Sierra Club, 187 coal plants have already retired or announced their retirement through the group’s 13-year campaign. In June, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to adopt final rules on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would cut carbon emissions by 30% at existing power plants from 2005 levels by 2030, and likely mothball at least two of Arkansas’ coal-fired power plants.

Grid operator Southwest Power Pool (SPP) said Wednesday that it would cost up to $2.9 billion a year to develop a regional plan to comply with President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) that the federal EPA is expected to hand down later this summer.

The Little Rock grid operator said in a statement that a regional compliance approach to cut carbon emissions by 30% at existing power plants from 2005 levels by 2030 is doable, but at a cost of nearly $3 billion annually – based on estimated capital investment and energy production costs across SPP’s regional footprint.

The Arkansas Energy Office (AEO) recently handed out $400,000 to Higginson-based Krug Energy for the development of the company’s compressed natural gas fueling station in the White County community located on Highway 367.

The AEO, which is part of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, awarded the funds through the state’s Gaseous Fuels Rebate Program, which provides incentives for the development of refueling infrastructure for various alternative fuels.

“These rebates will allow Krug Energy to offer a needed choice for those individuals and businesses interested in saving money and doing their part to promote energy security,” said Mitchell Simpson, interim director of the Arkansas Energy Office. “We encourage more station operators to make such changes that have the potential to make a profound impact in our state and across the country.”

The Krug Energy station has already begun offering the compressed natural gas to the public. For more information on the AEO’s CNG programs, visit