High-sulfur Coal Stocks Are on the Rise

Physician's Money Digest, September 2006, Volume 13, Issue 9

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Always a popular target for criticism inthe past, high-sulfur coal has recentlydrawn an approving eye, attracting investors' attention—and wallets. Eventhough high-sulfur coal burns hotter thanlow-sulfur coal, which enables it to generatemore electricity, high-sulfur coal wasavoided because it could lead to acid rainand other environmental problems, acostly investment for both electric utilitiesand other coal buyers. But accordingto a recent article in the , stricter environmentalregulations and costlier pollution emissioncredits have compelled facilities to invest in"scrubbers." These are seven-story facilitiesthat are placed next to smokestacks thatcapture the sulfur as it comes out of theplants. Now, high-sulfur coal can be utilizedwithout the same pollution risk. Companieslike Consol Energy Inc that sell high-sulfurcoal are predicted to grab market sharesfrom coal competitors over the next fewyears. The says that while currentlyonly 30% to 40% of the nation's coal-firedelectricity output is generated by facilitiesusing scrubbers, that figure is expected tojump to about 60% over the next 5 years.Because some power plants were built toonly burn one particular type of coal, it maybe more difficult for some companies tomake the switch.