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Sierra Club Study Indicates Lower Cost For Renewable Energy

Three smokestacks and coal plant building beneath partly cloudy sky
arbryreed, Flickr.com

The financial cost of burning coal is going up, while the cost of renewable forms of energy is going down, according to a recent study commissioned by the Sierra Club. 

The club commissioned an independent analysis of PacifCorp—the energy company that runs Rocky Mountain Power.

Energy Strategies, the independent company contracted for the study, analysis said wind and solar power tend to be less expensive for consumers than coal. Jeremy Fisher is from the Sierra Club and said the report informs consumers on the differences in cost between coal and renewable forms of energy.

"We thought it was important to spur that conversation," Fisher said. "I think in general, the conversation has been well, we have these coal units, they must be economic, they already exist, they there’s already fuel in the ground, and I think the numbers point in a very different direction than that."

The report said there is potentially $700 million in savings if coal is replaced with solar energy, and even more savings if coal is replaced with wind power. Fisher said consumers can take an active role in demanding their power comes from renewable sources.

"So even if a consumer doesn’t have the wherewithal to install solar on their own rooftop or find another way to be able to mitigate it themselves, I think it’s actually more important that the utility itself takes steps to change and turn around its own fleet," Fisher said. 

In response to the report, PacifiCorp released a statement saying the study was limited in scope and didn’t consider a variety of details that measure cost and benefit.

Read the whole study here: Sierra Club Coal Valuation Study