Retired plants have already been left abandoned for years, creating blight while presenting stark portraits of foregone opportunities
Industry analysts predict that environmental and economic factors will lead to the retirement of dozens of aging coal-fired power plants in the coming decade. Many of these occupy important locations in cities, often with valuable access to waterfronts. According to a new report, these sites present tremendous opportunities for new civic and private uses such as riverfront housing, shops, and offices -- as well as museums, parks, and other community amenities. I agree.
The report (Repurposing Legacy Power Plants: Lessons for the Future), issued last month by the American Clean Skies Foundation, makes the case for doing exactly that, presenting eight case studies of repurposing projects that have been completed or begun. The Foundation believes that these projects provide "points of reference for business leaders, policy makers, and community stakeholders who wish to prepare for the coming wave of power plant retirements in their localities." (Much of this post has been adapted from language in the report.)
Providing templates for taking advantage of opportunities created by the country's transition to a future with cleaner energy production is important, in part because that transition needs to accelerate. From the report:
Approximately one-third of the U.S. coal-fired power plant fleet currently lacks critical emissions control technology. Many older plants, in particular, emit significant amounts of mercury and other metals, acid gases, and dangerous particles. These emissions have been shown to cause premature death, cancer, neurological damage, heart conditions, and chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. Almost 120 million Americans still live in areas that fail to meet national ambient air quality standards for ozone and other pollutants.
And all that, of course, is in addition to consequences from the massive amounts of global warming emissions produced by these older plants.