WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today introduced the Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act, legislation that 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,” Senator 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 recent series of winter storms caused hundreds of thousands of power outages—demonstrating the inconvenience, economic loss, and threats posed to American’s health and well-being by an absence of access to reliable energy. Because many variable energy generation units were unable to run during those storms, coal-fired power plants were used to help fill the gaps in energy generation. However, due to misguided and burdensome regulations and certain subsidies and mandates, many coal-fired plants have been prematurely slated for retirement and may not be around the next time there is a similar weather event.

The Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act would provide a temporary, five-year tax credit to help coal-fired power plants continue operations. 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 (ACCCE).

“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.”

“We support the Senate version of the Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act introduced by Senator Capito. 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,” ACCCE President and CEO Paul Bailey said. “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.”

Similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last month by Representative Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), and was co-sponsored by West Virginia Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), and Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.). 

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