April 23, 2018

Important Measure Will Protect Coal Jobs | Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Two West Virginia lawmakers have introduced an important measure that seeks to ensure the continued operation of coal-fired power plants in the Mountain State and across the country.

The Energy Reliability Act of 2018 was introduced last week by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. The proposed measure would provide a temporary federal tax credit to support the nation’s coal-fired electric generation fleet in an effort to ensure coal-fired units are available to provide critical reliability and resilient attributes to the nation’s electric grid.

The cumulative effect of over-regulation and market rules that disadvantage baseload power, among other factors, has resulted in ongoing closures and retirement announcements for coal-fired and nuclear power plants, according to Manchin and Capito.

During the long eight-year war on coal that was waged by the Obama administration, several coal-fired power plants in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia were closed, including the Appalachian Power plant in Glen Lyn, Va.

However, the continued sustainability of such coal-fired units is important, as they help to provide the nation’s electrical grid with reliable 24-7 power, a point correctly noted last week by Capito and Manchin.

“Recent winter storms have highlighted just how important it is that we have access to affordable and reliable energy sources, and as it has done time and time again over the years, coal proved to be exactly what we needed to power the country,” Capito said. “As we work to identify and fix vulnerabilities in our electrical grid, we need to make sure that coal-fired power plants are able to continue producing the energy Americans rely on. This legislation will help ease some of the financial burdens placed on these plants, and as a result, it will help preserve our energy security.”

“As a West Virginian, I know that coal-fired power is the engine of our economy, powering industry and creating good paying jobs in our state,” Manchin added. “During extreme weather, coal has literally saved lives. Time and time again, coal-fired power plants have kept the lights on when other forms of energy could not. While I believe we need a long-term comprehensive energy policy, we cannot ignore the fact that our electric grid will continue to rely on coal.”

We agree. And we urge the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to act quickly in passing the Energy Reliability Act of 2018.

It is likely that this measure will also be supported by the Trump administration.

In addition to protecting jobs and sustaining communities where coal-fired power plants are still operational, the measure also will help to ensure the continued stability of the nation’s electrical grid.