Energy Stocks

Coal Lives On in Pizza Industry

Back in 1940, more than half of the homes in the U.S. burned coal to keep warm. Today, only 130,000 do.

Needless to say, coal’s day in the sun is fading fast.

The long-term picture for coal use isn’t good. By 2020, coal will account for just 24% of U.S. power generation. And I think it could be even less than that.

Last year, utilities shuttered 18 coal-fired generating plants in the U.S. This year, 14 more are on the chopping block.

But one coal company just celebrated its best year yet…

The Blaschak Coal Corporation is a private coal mining company operating out of Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania.

It’s been in business since 1937. All it does is mine the most desirable coal in the world.

I’m talking about Pennsylvania anthracite. Pound for pound, anthracite coal has the highest energy (heating value) of any coal.

Its carbon content ranges from 86% to 97%. But supplies of anthracite are very limited.

Most of the big northeastern Pennsylvania anthracite mines closed long ago. Today, anthracite coal represents less than 1% of all coal mined in the U.S.

Yet Blaschak Coal is finding a market and increasing sales. 2018 was its best year ever.

It sold 382,000 tons last year, beating 2014’s record of 374,000 tons.

So who is buying this coal? It might surprise you.

I mentioned anthracite’s incredible heating value. That makes it popular with the 63,000 homes in Pennsylvania that still burn coal for heat.

But here’s a use that is growing for Blaschak: coal-fired pizza ovens. They are a hot spot (no pun intended) for anthracite coal.

Coal-fired pizza ovens are preferable in restaurants. They typically run hotter than their wood-fired counterparts.

A hotter oven means a crispier pizza. These days, some homeowners are even installing coal-fired pizza ovens in their high-end kitchens.

Still, that demand alone isn’t going to buoy the sagging U.S. coal industry…

Sure, there will always be a few small miners that remain.

But the bulk of U.S. coal demand is evaporating before our eyes. Mainly because coal is no longer an economical way to generate electricity.

Ever since President Trump was elected, he has valiantly tried to prop up coal. When the Tennessee Valley Authority voted to close two coal plants, Trump pleaded with it to keep them open.

But in the end, it was all about money. Closing the two plants will save customers more than $1 billion.

Moving to renewables means lower energy generation prices for millions of Americans.

And we’ll save the coal for the pizza ovens.

Good investing,

Dave

P.S. Investing in the renewable energy sector is one of my top recommendations for 2019 and beyond. Read more about it in my new book, The Energy Disruption Triangle.