Up in the Dakotas the Sioux are suing to stop an oil pipeline. Down in Four Corners the Hopi are hoping to save a coal plant. Some argue this is a story about Cultural Identity vs. Job Security but that's all wallpaper sideshow bullshit. The reason we're seeing these stories in the national news is because this is a tribal battle between fossil fuels. It's gas and oil up against coal.
Peabody coal, the largest coal company in the US, owns the mine that supplies the Navajo Generating station. Peabody is very concerned about the financial impact the plant's closure will have on ratepayers in the Southwest. They commissioned a study (aka: paid for a result) that found "Arizona ratepayers would save $700 million keeping the plant open through 2040." That's 30 million a year. Thanks for looking out Peabody.
Here's the problem... The owner/operator of the plant, the Salt River Project, did their own study which came to a much different conclusion. They estimate operating the plant beyond 2019 will incur losses of $100 million to $150 million a year. So on second thought... Fuck you Peabody. Fuck you very much.
Ya know how they say gamblers have a tell when they're bluffing? Here's the tell that tells you all you need to know about the economics of coal plants. If coal plants still have value to investors/ratepayers you can reason that somebody with fat stacks of cash would be scooping up all these facilities on the cheap.
ZERO, ZILCH, ZIP, ZOT, OUGHT,
NADA, NIL, NIX, NONE, NOUGHT
Suggested Reading: Southwest asks: If coal dies, what comes next?, Crocodile Tears