Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spring flood and weather oscillations

The flood on the Ohio River this past spring, particularly on the lower Ohio, would have to be the top news story of 2011, if this blog did that sort of thing. Here's a short scientific paper looking at whether the weather system that produced the flood is part of a regularly occurring oscillation, whether years or decades in length.

I talked with two of the study's authors for this story in The State Journal.

More coal-fired power generation closing

Another utility has announced plans to replace coal-burning units with those powered by natural gas. This time it was Duke Energy, which said last week that it will shut down two units at its Gallagher power plant at New Albany, Ind., across the Ohio River from Louisville, and replace that generation with gas-fired units it is purchasing from another utility.

The two units at Gallagher will close by Feb. 1. According to this article in The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Gallagher has been a problem in the Louisville area for a long time. But its problems show that burning coal to make electricity is becoming more expensive, and the economics of burning coal require larger generating units that can justify the hundreds of millions of dollars that installing scrubbers and/or other equipment can cost.