The Utility industry has dealt with their coal ash dilemma at a snail’s pace for almost 15 years now. Although it is easy to blame the pace on the monopolistic tendencies of the Utility companies, environmental groups and regulatory agencies are just as much part of the bottleneck. – It takes two to tango!
…And why is this? The inability of the two sides to come together and decide on the middle path has caused this holdup. Instead of concentrating on the “how” to fix issue these two groups are still stuck arguing, after all these years, on the “why”.
Environmental groups’ stance hasn’t changed in over decade; “remove all the ash and either recycle or dispose it”. In the beginning it was thought that all the ash could be recycled into building materials like cement additives, however the market quickly became saturated with the glut of remediated ash. Disposal was never a complete option because there is limited US landfill airspace since waste industry is currently consolidating the disposal market.
To pile on, the threat of more regulations, which creates more legacy remediated ash, has backed the Utilities into a corner.
But before we label Utilities as “victims” we should recognize that they are part of the problem as well. Even when backed into a corner Utilities have failed to address the situation in a timely manner and simply “kicked the can down the road”.