Coal-produced electricity, long cheaper, rising in cost

Electric bills are poised to soar for customers of utilities building coal-fired power plants.

The plants, long-trusted purveyors of low-cost power, no longer seem like such good bets because of soaring construction costs and the surging cost of coal. Moreover, many think Congress will impose penalties on emissions that contribute to global warming.

To be sure, some in the electric industry still view coal-fired plants as the best low-cost option to provide year-round power. But the growing costs, driven by burgeoning global demand, have prompted warnings of “seismic shifts” in the way the industry views the plants.

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