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IEEFA Briefing Note: Coal Industry’s Solution to Energy Poverty Is Not Economically or Socially Feasible

March 03, 2016

CLEVELAND, March 3, 2016 (IEEFA) — The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) today published a briefing note that challenges traditional coal-industry solutions to global energy poverty.

The note, “Energy Poverty, Then and Now: How Coal Proponents Have It Wrong,” proposes modern, cleaner solutions to energy-accessibility problems that continue to affect millions of people, and explains why coal-fired energy is vastly out of step with the times.

“Coal-fired electricity is no longer the economy-builder its proponents say it is,” said Tom Sanzillo, IEEFA’s director of finance and author of the note. “Time was when coal in fact did contribute to growth in many economies, but times have changed. Today governments and private interests worldwide concede—even emphasize—the economic and environmental dysfunction of coal.”

The note describes how the effects of coal-fired power have been uneven at best. It cites examples of outdated or misguided electricity-development policy in South Africa, Kosovo and Puerto Rico and notes shifting policies toward more progressive energy development in India, China and the U.S.

“Coal-fired electricity today simply brings too many concomitant costs, including to public safety, to the environment, and to the financial stability of economics that depend too much on it,” Sanzillo said. “Powerful coal proponents, which include Peabody Energy, the largest private-sector coal producer in the world, avidly promote coal as the weapon of choice against energy poverty, which—to be sure—is a challenge in many countries. But Peabody and its allies have it fundamentally wrong.”

Sanzillo noted also that even where the coal-fired industry has carved out huge monopolies by creating captive markets and consolidating political power, millions of households remain energy poor. He said India is leading by example in some ways—through progressive support for solar, especially—and that locales that include Kosovo and Puerto Rico, by contrast, are offering poor policy responses to energy and economic poverty.

“Coal in this day and age will not solve energy poverty. More modern solutions, including innovations in renewable energy technology, are the answer.”

The full note is posted here:   “Energy Poverty, Then and Now: How Coal Proponents Have It Wrong,”

Media contact: Karl Cates, [email protected], 917.439.8225


The Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) conducts research and analyses on financial and economic issues related to energy and the environment. The Institute’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy and to reduce dependence on coal and other non-renewable energy resources.



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Tom Sanzillo

Tom Sanzillo is Director of Financial Analysis for IEEFA. He has produced influential studies on the oil, gas, petrochemical and coal sectors in the U.S. and internationally, including company and credit analyses, facility development, oil and gas reserves, stock and commodity market analysis, and public and private financial structures. He also examines such areas as community and shareholder activism, institutional investment, public subsidies and Puerto Rico’s energy economics.

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