A Senate bill introduced Monday would give existing coal plants tax breaks for the next five years, giving the struggling industry some relief while lawmakers look to increase grid security.
GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, a state hit especially hard by the decline of coal, introduced the Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act as a companion to a House bill of the same name introduced in March by GOP Rep. Larry Bucshon of Indiana.
“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,” Capito said in a statement. “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.”
Capito’s bill gives tax credits to help offset some operations and maintenance expenses at coal plants that qualify.
During an exceptionally long and bitter winter, some states fell back on coal to keep houses heated amid skyrocketing natural gas and energy prices. New England has pursued green energy alternatives to fossil fuels in recent years, rejecting projects such as pipelines and shutting down coal plants. Northeast states were forced to rely on traditional fuel to sustain themselves through the cold snap, however.
The industry interest group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) commended both bills as necessary in the short-term until a more permanent solution to grid security can be reached.
“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 in a statement. “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,” Bailey continued. “However, premature coal retirements will continue unless steps are taken, such as the enactment of this legislation.”
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