John Raese Statement at Albright Power Station
Back in February First Energy Corporation and their subsidiary Mon Power announced that three power plants in West Virginia would close by this September. The three named were Willow Island Power Plant in Pleasants County, Rivesville Power Station in Marion County and the plant behind me, the Albright Power Station here in Preston County.
These three stations produce about 600-megawatts of power or about 3% of the company’s capacity. In recent years all three have been used primarily as “peaking facilities” that are toggled on line as demand increases. Just a month earlier First Energy had announced the closing of six other coal fired power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
In every case the provider cited ever-increasing regulations and pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency as the reason that these plants were forced to close.
While we all demand clean water and clean air – and that is never a point of debate – the current EPA under President Barack Obama and Lisa Jackson have created a complex set of standards designed to make coal generated power obsolete. President Obama and his followers at the EPA and Department of Energy think that putting incredible pressure on the coal industry will somehow force more rapid development and deployment of alternative energy sources.
As then Senator Obama famously said, “So if someone wants to build a coal-powered plant they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted”. Obama was talking about his cap and trade proposal – an idea that’s already been proposed, passed and signed by Joe Manchin three years ago in West Virginia. House bill 103 calls for up to 25% of the power generated in West Virginia come from alternative sources by 2025. Alternative energy ranges from wind to burning used tires.
Really Joe, used tires?
The Obama/Manchin/Jackson EPA is providing a moving target for energy producers. Recently First Energy – this same power provider – spent five years and 1.8-billion dollars upgrading and retrofitting the W. H. Stammis Power Station just across the Ohio River from New Cumberland, West Virginia. After all of that work and expense the company is still not sure whether they can comply with this new set of rules recently issued by Barack Obama, Lisa Jackson and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Looking forward coal will continue to be a major source of electrical energy well into the future, yet this administration – and their out-of-touch Department of Energy – has once again this year lowered the amount of research dollars allocated to clean coal technology. They feel that if they can increase the pain they will get a better result, force a different reality, but that pain is not so much with these large multi-state companies as it is with the workers and their families who are losing jobs. With the coal producers and miners around these plants who are losing coal sales forcing layoffs or closings and with the truckers who move this natural resource from the mine to the power station every day.
A consulting group tasked with charting the long term economic impact of the new EPA rules nationwide report the regulations will cost electric utilities 184-billion dollars, cost our fragile economy 1.4-million American jobs and will bring us, the consumer, rate increases estimated between 11 and 23 percent to our monthly power bill. In certain coal dominant states, like West Virginia, that number could be even higher.
Just here in Preston County 61-workers will be displaced, the tax base used to fund education in the county will be reduced by 400-thousand dollars and the Preston County Commission will lose 180-thousand dollars from their budget each year
The decisions embraced by the democrats in charge of our government certainly don’t embrace trickle down economics but obviously do believe in trickle up misery.
I am here in Albright today to stand side by side with the coal producers, the coal miners and the coal users in this great state. The time for hollow words is long past. President Obama and Lisa Jackson will not listen and do not care. Senator Manchin is unable to change the course of these harmful regulations because he has, with his statements well before the election season, put his seal of approval on the Obama doctrine.
We need someone new in the White House, someone new at the EPA, someone new at the Department of Energy and a new senator from West Virginia.
That is change we can believe in and that is the only change that makes sense to save West Virginia’s coal industry.