Energy from coal might seem cheap on the surface, but when you add in the costs of coal-related pollution and health issues, the true cost of coal starts looking pretty steep.
Coal fired power plants spew toxins into our air while mountaintop removal mining practices destroy our mountains and pollute surrounding waterways. Here are just a few of the hidden annual costs of coal from the Appalachian region alone, according to a recent Harvard Medical School study:
- Public health: $75 billion
- Health costs due to air pollution from coal power plants: $187 billion
- Mercury emissions: $29 billion
- Climate change and greenhouse gas emissions: $206 billion.
According to the study, adding up all of these hidden costs would increase the per kWh price for coal by almost 18 cents. To put that in perspective, coal power now costs around 12 cents per kWh. Solar power costs between 10 and 15 cents per kWh.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by senor_codo