12 WV county economies vulnerable to power plant retirements - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

12 WV county economies vulnerable to power plant retirements

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  • Woman suffers minor injuries after car rolls on I-77 in Raleigh County

    Woman suffers minor injuries after car rolls on I-77 in Raleigh County

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:13 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:13:55 GMT
    Car rolled multiple times on I-77 North in Raleigh County.Car rolled multiple times on I-77 North in Raleigh County.
    In Raleigh County, a woman is miraculously not seriously injured, after her car rolls over on I-77 around 6:30 Wednesday night.An eyewitness tells us the woman was driving in the left lane on the northbound side. She suddenly veered off the road, over corrected,then slammed into the side of a tractor trailer. The car rolled multiple times before coming to a stop on it's roof.The witness says two small dogs ran out of the car. Moments later, the woman crawled out and ran after one of the dogs....
    In Raleigh County, a woman is miraculously not seriously injured, after her car rolls over on I-77 around 6:30 Wednesday night.An eyewitness tells us the woman was driving in the left lane on the northbound side. She suddenly veered off the road, over corrected,then slammed into the side of a tractor trailer. The car rolled multiple times before coming to a stop on it's roof.The witness says two small dogs ran out of the car. Moments later, the woman crawled out and ran after one of the dogs....
  • UPDATE: Deputies release description of Fairlea robbery suspect

    UPDATE: Deputies release description of Fairlea robbery suspect

    Thursday, July 31 2014 11:23 AM EDT2014-07-31 15:23:06 GMT
    A robbery at a video lottery parlor in Fairlea is under investigation by the Greenbrier County Sheriff's Office.  Now they are asking for anyone with information on the incident to call them with tips.
    A robbery at a video lottery parlor in Fairlea is under investigation by the Greenbrier County Sheriff's Office.  Now they are asking for anyone with information on the incident to call them with tips.
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    BREAKING: Possible Shooting in Mercer County

    BREAKING: Possible Shooting in Mercer County

    Thursday, July 31 2014 11:02 AM EDT2014-07-31 15:02:30 GMT
    Possible Shooting in MontcalmPossible Shooting in Montcalm
    Emergency dispatchers confirmed there was a 911 call at 9:46 a.m. on Thursday of a possible gun shot in the Montcalm area of Mercer County.Dispatchers said the Mercer County Sheriff's Department responded to the scene along with the Bluefield Rescue Squad. One person has been transported to Princeton Community Hospital.Stay with 59News and wvnstv.com for updates on this developing story.
    Emergency dispatchers confirmed there was a 911 call at 9:46 a.m. on Thursday of a possible gun shot in the Montcalm area of Mercer County.Dispatchers said the Mercer County Sheriff's Department responded to the scene along with the Bluefield Rescue Squad. One person has been transported to Princeton Community Hospital.Stay with 59News and wvnstv.com for updates on this developing story.

The coal-mining economies of five counties in southern West Virginia are moderately vulnerable to market and regulatory influences and to future declines in demand, according to a new report by a Morgantown consulting firm.

The report by Downstream Strategies lists Boone, Kanawha, Lincoln, Nicholas and Mingo as particularly vulnerable to changes in the power industry, with Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, McDowell, Raleigh, Wayne and Wyoming being listed as marginally vulnerable and Logan and Mercer as not immediately vulnerable.

The Central Appalachian counties most vulnerable to change in the industry were Pike, Knott and Letcher in Kentucky and Wise in Virginia.

The report, which was released Monday, is an update of a similar report Downstream Strategies issued in 2010. It examined the state of the industry in 14 counties in West Virginia, 18 in Kentucky, six in Virginia and three in Tennessee.

"Since we released our 2010 report, the decline of the region's coal industry has been publicly acknowledged by both industry leaders and state policymakers," Evan Hansen, president of Downstream Strategies, said in a statement accompanying the release of the report.

"Our new report illustrates how the industry's many challenges will likely lead to even lower production levels in the future."

The report analyzes market trends impacting Central Appalachian coal demand, including the national economy; regional coal prices and labor productivity; competition in electricity markets from other coal basins, natural gas, and renewable energy; demand among other domestic coal markets, including the manufacturing and industrial sectors; and foreign markets for Central Appalachian coal.

"Numerous factors influence demand for Central Appalachian coal, each of which has had—and will continue to have—a significant impact on the local economies where the coal is mined," said Rory McIlmoil, the lead author of the report. "In 2010, we recommended that state and local leaders take immediate steps to help diversify coalfield economies. To a large extent, that has not happened. However, it is vital that public officials begin making the political and financial investments necessary to build the foundation for new economic development opportunities in coal-producing counties."

 The 140-page report detailed 13 principal findings:

  • Central Appalachian coal production has declined significantly in recent years and will continue to decline.
  • Underground mining has declined substantially, and surface and underground mining now produce approximately the same amount of Central Appalachian coal.
  • Labor productivity has declined virtually every year since 2000.
  • Employment and tax trends will not necessarily follow production trends.
  • Met coal exports have had a substantial impact on regional coal demand.
  • Coal-fired power plants are the most important purchasers of Central Appalachian coal.
  • Average mine prices and transportation costs for Central Appalachian coal are the highest among the four major coal basins.
  • Demand for Central Appalachian coal by the electricity sector "dropped precipitously" from 2006 to 2011.
  • A number of new federal regulations have been proposed or implemented recently that will likely have a general impact on demand for coal as a source of fuel for electricity generation, or on the mining of coal.
  • Central Appalachian coal production is already being impacted by coal plant retirements and fuel switching.
  • The region will be impacted significantly as plants that burn Central Appalachian coal retire.
  • The Central Appalachian basin is also vulnerable to plants that have installed emission controls or that can switch to burning natural gas.
  • Central Appalachian counties are vulnerable to different degrees.

According to the report, about 43.89 million tons of coal produced in southern West Virginia was used in power plants in 2011. In Kentucky, the amount was 49.65 million tons; 8.9 million in Virginia and 1.07 million in Tennessee.