Review of the Federal Energy Administration's Coal Conversion Program

EMD-77-66: Published: Sep 16, 1977. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 1977.

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Little has been accomplished by the Federal Energy Administration's (FEA) coal conversion program in its 3 years of operation. Few orders prohibiting existing powerplants and major fuel burning installations from burning natural gas or petroleum products as a primary energy source have been made final, and the Administrator, FEA, has stated that oil and gas savings resulting from the program have been negligible.

A variety of problems appear to have contributed to program delays. FEA, under the Energy Supply and Environmental Coordination Act, must make detailed site-specific economic and environmental analyses before ordering utilities and major fuel burning installations to burn coal. The program has been hampered by personnel turnover, and a 6-month lapse of authority caused delays and uncertainties in the administration of the program. There appeared to be a lack of commitment to issue orders to major fuel burning installations. Disagreements between FEA and the Environmental Protection Agency continue to lessen the effectiveness of the coal conversion program. In addition, the difficulty in many parts of the country in burning coal in compliance with environmental laws and regulations has hampered the program's effectiveness; and the large capital investments required for new coal burning facilities or to convert existing facilities back to burning coal is a barrier to increased coal use.

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