The Richmond Register

March 6, 2014

Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter

Mike Duncan
Guest Columnist

INEZ — This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.

Thankfully, fuel sources that offer reliable and affordable energy — like coal — were on hand to meet demand while keeping utility bills stable for Kentucky families.

Kentucky is blessed to have an abundant supply of coal. It is a resource that has fueled our energy needs for generations. Yet, even with this surplus, many families struggle to make ends meet while keeping the power on.

According to a recent study from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), Kentucky families making below $50,000 annually spend 20 percent of their after-tax income on energy-related expenses.

The poorest of Kentucky’s households spend an even higher percentage – nearly 75 percent of their income – on energy needs.

Alarmingly, these figures are only rising. Since 2005, Kentucky residential energy prices have increased by 25 percent in real terms. The more costs rise, the more households are forced to choose between necessities like food, housing or even keeping the heat on during the coldest, winter nights.

Increases in energy costs are due to a variety of factors, but one significant cause is the Obama Administration’s regulatory assault on coal-based industries.

President Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are calling for unattainable standards, like the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), that would essentially ban the construction of new coal plants and leave Kentucky families with fewer, reliable energy choices and higher electric bills.

The administration needs to consider what these regulations will do to American families and the U.S. economy. Thousands of American jobs will be lost following plant shutdowns, creating a crippling wave of unemployment and systemic economic damage. Further, our nation will forfeit its economic competitiveness in clean coal technologies to overseas competitors.

It is important to note the great strides the coal-fueled electricity industry has made in reducing its environmental footprint. The industry has invested $130 billion over the past 40 years to develop clean coal technology, reducing emissions by more than 90 percent and helping the U.S. coal fleet to run more cleanly than ever before.

This winter’s spikes in energy costs and threats to reliability remind us of why we must pursue smart energy policies that utilize all of our abundant resources like coal to ensure affordable, reliable electricity for Kentucky families and businesses.

Robert “Mike” Duncan of Inez is a member of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).