Report outlines economic contribution of Alaska coal production
A new report by the McDowell Group on the economic contribution of coal production to Alaska’s economy found that the Usibelli Coal Mine near Healy accounts for 577 Interior Alaska jobs and an annual payroll of $44 million connected with mining, distribution, and consumption of coal. Statewide, the impact is 692 jobs and $52 million in payroll.
The analysis noted that coal is the Interior’s lowest-cost source of energy. On an energy basis, coal is half the cost of natural gas and one-sixth the cost of diesel.
The report found that if military bases in the Interior switched from coal to natural gas, energy costs could rise by 250%. If a new, more efficient coal plant had been online in 2012 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, energy costs there would have been 40 to 50 percent lower.
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