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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-27-08 12:00 AM
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Coal price soars, electric rates close behind
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Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

While worry and hand-wringing has centered around higher food and gasoline prices, coal prices have shot skyward even faster with much less fanfare. And that increase promises to drive electricity costs much higher too.

The spot price for northern Appalachian coal -- which includes coal mined in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia -- was $138 a ton last week, more than double the $55-a-ton price of a year ago and four times what it was in 2000.

Spurred by a tight coal market made tighter by a series of extreme weather events earlier this year in China, Australia and South Africa, the spike in coal prices could add another 30 percent to electric rates that were already projected to increase more than 50 percent when rate caps for most power customers in the state expire in January 2011, said Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner Tyrone Christy.


Coal prices have been rising since 2000, driven primarily by increasing demand from expanding industrial economies in China and India. China, the world's biggest producer and user of coal, has gone from an exporter to an importer of coal. It stopped exports in February and March after the biggest snowstorm to hit the country in 50 years disrupted production and distribution, caused dozens of power plants to close and created electricity shortages.

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