Manchin, Capito pushing coal legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. are pushing legislation that would give tax breaks to help keep coal-fired power plants in operation.

“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 said. “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.”

On Monday, Capito introduced the Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act, which would provide a temporary tax credit for existing coal-fired power plants to help cover a portion of operation and maintenance costs.

“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.”

The Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act would provide a temporary, five-year tax credit to help coal-fired power plants continue operations, according to Capito. The credit would help offset a portion of operation and maintenance expenses at qualifying plants.

The bill is supported by the West Virginia Coal Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

“This tax credit is urgently needed by the electric-generating industry so as to preserve, on a balanced-field basis, the coal-fired power plants’ abilities to provide dependable, resilient electricity to the American people when their need is most critical,” West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney said.

“This economic step is sorely needed today, as the past administration penalized the coal-burning utilities with costly, unreasonable and unachievable regulations that raised the cost of electricity for everyone. Quick action is hoped for as the very survival of a reliable electric grid — one that we all can have confidence in — is at stake,” Raney said.

Paul Bailey, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, also spoke in favor of Capito’s bill.

“We support the Senate version of the Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act introduced by Senator Capito,” Bailey said. “The introduction of this bill is another important step towards the passage of legislation to help sustain the nation’s fleet of coal-fueled power plants. This is only a temporary tax credit to help maintain the reliability and resilience of the nation’s electricity grid until policymakers agree on a longer-term plan for the grid.

“The coal fleet demonstrated its importance by being the most resilient source of electricity during the recent Bomb Cyclone. However, premature coal retirements will continue unless steps are taken, such as the enactment of this legislation.

“We are grateful that Senator Capito has introduced the Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act and look forward to working with Congress to enact it.”

Manchin has introduced similar legislation.

“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,” Manchin said. “My legislation will help reverse some of the damage the Obama administration did to the industry — saving and creating jobs in the process. It will give coal-fired power plants a tax credit to ensure that these plants can continue to provide the resilient and reliable electric generation that our country relies on.”

Similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in March by U.S. Representative Larry Bucshon, R-Indiana, and was co-sponsored by West Virginia representatives David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins.

By:  Rusty Marks
Source: State Journal