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Power and feasibility

Written by Susan Mannella on .

People have cited the Homer City power plant, an 1,800- megawatt coal-fired plant, as a major source of pollution, and indeed it is, but correcting the matter is not the trivial matter they suggest.

First, two of the three boilers already have pollution controls that meet Environmental Protection Agency requirements, and the third is getting a $700 million makeover to do the same. Some have suggested replacing the steam plant with solar or wind power generation.

The first objection is that Homer City is a base load plant -- it must be available at all hours of the day or night. Solar cells have quite a difficult time coping with darkness, and wind generators have the same problem with calms. Second, the size of 1,800 megawatts is far, far beyond anything that has been attempted to date with wind or solar power.

All pollution problems are rather easy to fix when you can take an uneducated "all you gotta do" approach that violates at least one basic law of physics or finance. The engineers and scientists working on these problems are neither lazy nor stupid. Nor are they insensitive to them. They too have children who are impacted by pollution.

Unless some major scientific development comes about, the only feasible answer to future power needs is nuclear power. Anything that is burned contributes to carbon and climate change.

KEITH H. SUEKER
Consulting Engineer
Penn Hills

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