This case is suitable for graduate-level quantitative analysis, business and government, environment and sustainability, and global economics courses. Students must consider the tradeoffs between continuing to run an old coal-burning plant and purchasing emissions allowances (EAs) versus upgrading to emissions-reducing wet or dry scrubbers. Reducing emissions creates the possibility of selling the plant's surplus EAs (which are likely to increase in price). Choosing a wet or dry scrubber requires considering installation cost and construction time, variable cost, and SO2 removal efficiency. Ideally, the investment should pay back over time, but management believes some net investment could also be justified. For that, however, complete analyses from both economic and environmental perspectives are required. A supplemental spreadsheet is available to accompany the case (UVA-QA-0726X).
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