Rail shipping costs increasing for coal

Over the last 10 years shipping coal by railroad to power plants has increased almost 50 percent, and rail accounts for 70 percent of the transportation of coal, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Though there are significant regional differences, transportation cost accounts for 40 percent of the average overall cost of coal.

With a mine-mouth coal plant like Prairie State, which is now supplying energy to Illinois electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, the transportation cost is eliminated. The Prairie State generating plant is state-of-the-art in efficiency and pollution control, but also has the cost advantage of a 30-year coal supply right there at the plant.

“We own the coal and will not be subjected to market-based rates for coal or transportation costs,” says Jay Bartlett, President/CEO of Prairie Power, Inc. “This plant will help make electric rates very affordable and very stable for decades.”

Prairie State Energy Campus is a mine-mouth energy complex with a 6.5 million ton per year coal mine located directly next to a super-critical, 1,600 MW power plant. Its owners and investors are eight consumer-owned ­municipal and electric cooperative ­utilities and Peabody Energy. Prairie State provides electricity for more than 2.5 million families in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia and West Virginia.