A new Harvard University study examines the life cycle cost of coal power including all the resulting environmental and health expenses and found that although the coal itself might be cheap, the price of generating power from it is not. The study found that coal power actually costs the U.S. somewhere between $345 billion and $500 billion each year.
The study says that if all of those expenses were included in people's electricity bills, it would double to triple the cost of coal power, adding $0.09 - $0.27 per kWh, making it no longer the cheapest source of electricity, but one of the most expensive.
Some of the hidden expenses outlined in the study are elevated rates of cancer and other diseases in coal-mining regions, environmental damage to those areas (including water and air pollution), loss of tourism dollars and costs related to climate change.
The full study titled "Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal" will be published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences soon.