Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) warned that the “alarming” number of coal plants shutting down due to EPA regulations portends a looming energy crisis.
The Government Accountability Office reported yesterday that “power companies now plan to retire a greater percentage of coal-fueled generating capacity and retrofit less capacity with environmental controls than the estimates GAO reported in July 2012.”
“About 13 percent of coal-fueled generating capacity—42,192 megawatts (MW)—has either been retired since 2012 or is planned for retirement by 2025, which exceeds the estimates of 2 to 12 percent of capacity that GAO reported in 2012.”
The GAO added that the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has only taken “initial steps” over the past two years to interact on the question of how EPA regulations could affect energy reliability.
Thirty-eight percent of plant closures were centered in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
“The number of coal-fired plants that are being forced to shut down is alarming, and I truly believe we are setting ourselves up for a major electric stability crisis in this country,” Manchin said in a statement. “The GAO report verifies the dangerous impact the EPA’s proposed rules are having on our electrical grid and our economy, and it should be an eye-opener not just for West Virginians, but for hard working individuals and families across America who depend on coal for reliable and affordable energy, especially during the harsh winters when the grid is pushed to capacity.”
The senator said the report “should also clearly demonstrate that it is time for the Department of Energy to accelerate available grants and loan guarantees for advanced fossil fuel projects.”
“I will do everything in my power to continue pushing all relevant federal agencies to live up to their responsibilities to ensure the reliability of our national electricity system,” Manchin added.
“It is long past time that these agencies recognize that we will rely on fossil fuels for decades to come, and rather than simply forcing plants to close, we need to figure out how to help them run more efficiently. If we don’t, prices will soar and the grid will fail.”