U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s political acumen is normally pretty sharp.  His infamous 2010 TV ad where he fires a bullet into the federal cap-and-trade bill was a classic.  However, when it comes to the current fight in the West Virginia Legislature over an energy bill, Manchin is missing the mark.

The new Republican leadership wants to repeal the 2009 Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard law.  That legislation dictates to West Virginia utilities what percentage of alternative fuels they must use to generate electricity: 10 percent this year, 15 percent by 2020 and 25 percent by 2025.

The GOP scornfully calls the law–pushed through by then-Governor Joe Manchin–“cap-and-trade,” although that’s somewhat misleading.  The law does not cap carbon emissions, but it does cap the percentage of coal generated energy and allow for the trading of credits.

House and Senate bills to revoke the law have started moving through the Legislature with some bi-partisan support… and Manchin is livid.   “I am deeply disappointed that the Republicans in (the) West Virginia Legislature have decided to play partisan politics with our state’s energy and utility rates by attempting to repeal the bipartisan Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio law.”

Manchin argues the law is a common sense approach to encouraging utilities to use all of West Virginia’s energy resources, “from building more efficient coal power plants and upgrading old plants, to investing in renewable energy.”

However, there is a problem with that logic.

Why should the government dictate to utilities where they get their sources of energy?  West Virginia gets 95 percent of its electricity from coal.  It’s a cheap and reliable fuel that keeps energy costs down for consumers, which is why utilities burn coal.

Forcing power companies to include more expensive and less dependable alternatives drives up prices, which is tantamount to ratepayer subsidies for wind, solar and other non-traditional sources. FirstEnergy Government Affairs manager Sammy Gray told lawmakers during a committee meeting last week that solar and wind are about three times more expensive than coal.

Republicans ran on repealing “cap-and-trade” and they now control both chambers of the Legislature.  It’s apparent that a number of Democrats are going to join with them on this fight.  Senator Manchin need not burn any more of his political capital trying to defend this law, especially by claiming its planned revocation is a result of a “corrosive political atmosphere” similar to Washington.

He may want to think back to his 2010 TV ad, when he had better aim.

 

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Comments

  • hillbilly

    One way to provide cheaper electricity might be hydroelectric. There are several proposals out there to add hydro generators onto existing dams in Morgantown, Grafton, etc. Several existing coal fired plants are aging, and may soon need replaced. EPA is not going to allow affordable coal plants to be built, so if they get replaced its likely natural gas fired.

    • WVU Common Tater

      Water power is just a drop in the bucket. And what do you do in a dry year?

      • AX MAN

        If we can can control the climate, we can control the rain .

  • JustSay'in

    Hoppy Kercheval = Fox News Lite.

  • Charleston

    Earth to West Virginians: The U.S. does not reign as the number 1 emitter of carbon dioxide. That spot belongs to China. (http://www.statista.com/statistics/271748/the-largest-emitters-of-co2-in-the-world/) (http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2.html#.VL0N6410zIU) (http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/news_docs/pbl-2013-trends-in-global-co2-emissions-2013-report-1148.pdf) - look at page 11 of 64.
    We are improving our standard of cleaner air!!!

  • Jesse's girl

    The Dark Ages belongs to those of you who have bought into the notion of anthropogenic climate change. The Scientific Method has been turned on its head. This Method governed scientific research until recently when those who do not want to be governed by integrity, fazed it out.

    Among the common sense "rules" the Scientific Method requires that "findings" be published, the data be available and that the results be repeatable. Today's charade for the "low information crowd" is based on either data carefully cherry picked from larger sets to give desired results or is totally from computer models. Computer models have never been remotely accurate as they do not contain enough data OR they have been fed data to give the desired results.

    For some unknown reason, people are still enamored by so-called “scientists.” We have thrown integrity out of society in favor of “the end justifies the means” (a tenet of Karl Marx). Why so many march in lock-step behind these folks is a mystery to me. We have turned from a nation of thinkers into a nation of sheep.

    Earth is dynamic and not static. Earth goes through cycles of millions, thousands, hundreds and tens of years for reasons we only partially understand. When the coal in West Virginia was formed, our climate was similar to that of today’s Indonesia. Earth has actually been cooling for the past 19 years, but as that does not fit your template.......

    Liberalism is governed by feelings and emotion, not facts. Conservatism is governed by facts guided by common sense.

    • Helen

      Patting youself on the back says alot about a person.

    • WVU Common Tater

      When I was young and becoming somewhat of a scientist, I thought that you analyzed the problem and then came to a conclusion or theory. When I got older and worldly wise, I realized that a politician could be a scientist also. In that case, they worked the problem in reverse. The knew what they wanted the conclusion to be and adjusted the questions and data to accommodate the solution they wanted. I should have listened to Mark Twain earlier.

    • JustSay'in

      Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA calculated that in 2014 the world had its hottest year in 135 years of record-keeping. Nine of the 10 hottest years in NOAA global records have occurred since 2000. The odds of this happening at random are about 650 million to 1. If global climate change is true, caused by man-made CO2, and catastrophic events happen as a result, then you, and those who deny it now, deserve to burn in hell.

      • Jake

        Tell the truth and the entire story.
        NASA also admitted that they may only be 38% correct in their findings.

      • JustAsk'in

        135 years of recordkeeping? Would you say the results that you cite are statistically valid? Would you not think that it got colder the years prior to the last ice age? What caused that? JustAsk'in

      • WVU Common Tater

        For many, many years, the air temperature was measured by thermometers that read to one degree. The tolerance would then be plus or minus one degree plus what ever error was in the thermometer which is a large unknown The read temperature is also affected by the surrounding, like concrete runways and roads, but the Modelers have been able to say with there great certainty, the world will rise several degrees. The fact that none of their models work is based upon the old computer saying, Garbage In, Garbage Out.

        • Ted

          What you just said, makes absolutely no sense. Try again.

          • WV Common Tater

            Read it slowly, word by word, sentence by sentence, and you will understand it.

          • The bookman

            Here is a starting point.

            http://www.drroyspencer.com/global-warming-natural-or-manmade/

          • Hop'sHip

            Where can we find summaries of these scientific studies using satellite temperature recordings?

          • The bookman

            Using land based thermometers to measure global temperature, and then using that data to determine Global temperature variations is unreliable. Positioning, accuracy, absorption of heat, direct solar radiation, and the sheer antiquated technology from 135 years ago would lead any discerning scientist to be untrusting of such data.

            The alternative is to look to Satellite data, highly sophisticated and precisely accurate instruments that measure the temperature of the atmosphere in nearly every square inch of the planet. The data set is public, and available to the scientific community free of charge and for their ensuing scrutiny. That data demonstrates a warming period through the 90's and then no warming for the last 18+years. There is consistent variability from year to year, but zero warming represented by a zero slope in a best fit line of linear regression over the last 18 years.

            That is his point, and it is a valid one. There are many things at play in our climate, and make no mistake, it is changing. It is a natural process that we do not fully understand, but yet 97% of scientists claim they have reached consensus. I say political consensus has been reached.

    • Dave

      Gee, maybe you should write to the worlds scientists and tell them that the earth goes through natural changes in climate, I bet they don't even know this

    • Dave

      Conservatism is governed by what Fox News tells you

      • Sick & Tired

        Liberalism is governed by what MSN tells them

        • Hop'sHip

          Mountaineer Sports Network is liberal?

        • AX MAN

          Don't forget, ABC, NBC,CNN.

      • Mike

        Good one!

        • Tod

          Bad one!!

    • Hop'sHip

      Earth has been cooling for the last 19 years? From where do YOU get your information? Let me guess. Heartland Institute?

      • Ted

        Nine of the 10 hottest years in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration global records have occurred since 2000. Yea, that sounds like cooling.

        • Starkwood

          Guess you didn't read the fact that NASA and NOAA were found to be falsifying their data to say that. The hottest year was in some time around the Great Depression. Don't believe anything the government tells you. VERIFY from independent sources.

    • Silas Lynch

      That's Kooky talk!!! you think science is more credible than Al Gore, the guy who invented the TV,,, or was it the phone he invented,,, or maybe it was he that invented the saying; " laughing all the way to the bank" or,, maybe,,, he coined the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute"--- who knows....

  • Rufus

    We have been going thru a non-stop climate change since the ice age according to history.

    • Jesse's girl

      Yes. We are still in an interglacial period until the next ice age. In the later 1960's we "all knew" that was coming.

      • Jessie's Other Girl

        I pray you are not a school teacher.

      • TedC

        Jessie needs a smarter girl. In a hurry.

  • Dave

    Hoppy..I suppose you want to lie about climate change in the school curriculum too. Thinking like this will keep the state in the dark ages

    • Silas Lynch

      Dave, and what is the "school curriculum" teaching about "climate change", that the climate has changed through out the history of Earth long before man was ever here?

      I hope you are not relying on the same "school curriculum" otherwise known as "Common Core"

  • CaptainQ

    Hoppy, MoJo's been on the political 'defensive' with the voters of WV ever since he lobbied for a bill to introduce more background checks for gun purchases and got on the 'wrong side' of the NRA. Now it seems Joe Manchin is just digging a deeper hole for himself with the WV public with his 'sour grapes' remarks about repealing his energy law.

    Joe Manchin does NOT possess the late Robert C. Byrd's 'Cloak of Political Invincibility.' he can't just say and do anything he wants in Washington and have WV voters automatically reelect him by a landslide every time his term is up. Perhaps MoJo will discover this fact the hard way, when he runs for political office again, either as Governor in 2016 or U.S. Senator in 2018.

  • Jeff

    Hoppy's Commentary is misleading because the law did not force power companies to do anything different. In WV, coal and gas generate "alternative" credits.

    • mentor

      naw just force 4 out of work

    • The bookman

      Only coal generation from more efficient sources or non-traditional generation methods would qualify as alternative. When written, a plan was in place to upgrade the current coal fleet with improved technology, leading to more efficient burning of coal. The most efficient plant operating in the US is the Longview plant in Morgantown. It qualifies as "alternative." Tell Jim Kotcon that Longview is alternative energy. Watch the expression.

      Then along came the EPA and passed its new coal fired EGU emissions regulations and "poof," all of the investment into retooling the coal fleet disappeared, and NG became king.

      The plan never had any teeth. The coal industry along with Power Interest helped write a plan that required zero concessions from them, and a plan that without doing a thing, would comply and accumulate credits from the get go. It was a junk bill, smoke and mirrors from the start, and should not cause celebration from the environmentalists if it remains in place, or the coal lobby if it is repealed.

      • wirerowe

        The carbon dioxide standards were set so that natural gas could meet them and coal couldn't. I agree with you on most things. Correct me but the mandates set for specific years are teeth. But this bill had mandates that the power industry says they could meet. We do not need the mandates because you cannot force clean coal technologies that are not possible to achieve with technology that is out there.

        • The bookman

          Manchin's plan in 2009 only had false teeth. If you set out to develop a plan with which you already comply, it should come as no surprise it will not affect change.

          Now the EPA plan to restrict CO2 from new and existing power generation did have teeth, and NG is only marginally compliant. The plan is to continually shift the proportion of coal to NG to renewables so that CO2 emissions are on constant reduction pressure. As you commented in the pipeline thread yesterday, they only prefer NG to coal. Fracking and the continued development and distribution of NG as fuel for electricity generation will be the next dirty fossil fuel in their sights as the coal industry continues to decline.

    • Jesse's girl

      Coal IS the cheapest energy source.

      • William Glasser

        Jesse deserves a better informed girl.

        • Silas Lynch

          If coal isn't the cheapest way to supply power to millions, then tell us what is.

          • Ted Jr.

            Thorium was proved cheap enough in the 1960's.

            Still is.

          • Silas Lynch

            If you know Thorium then you know it's not cheap enough,,,, at least yet...

          • William Glasser

            Thorium.

        • Mitch

          But I'm sure she has other appreciated 'qualities'.

          • mentor

            as much as u mitch an ur man partner whowears the skirt mitch

  • Jeff

    Why can't we force power companies to be flexible enough to provide us with the cheapest power? Oh yeah, because we would burn less coal! Boo hoo

    • mentor

      poor Jeffery ur gonna lose millions

  • Bill Hill

    I listened to part of a committee hearing Friday regarding the repeal of this bill. The Judiciary committee was taking testimony from a First Energy Representative. He was asked a couple of interesting questions.

    The first was whether or not first energy was able to comply with the law to which the answer was yes.

    The second was whether or not it affected customer rates, the answer was no.

    The third was the most telling however and that was what determined what energy source first energy used. The answer, the free market.

    I am no fan of this law because it is an attempt by government to pick winners and losers instead of allowing the free market to do it.

    As far as the use of carbon based fuels goes, despite what you hear in the media, the argument isn't settled and never has been. One needs to take a few moments and do some research. If we are going to take the word of the "experts" we need to understand how they know what they know. We need to know what exactly their expertise is in. As an example and expert in ancient climatology may not have much of a clue about climate physics. Most importantly however, we also need to take a long look at their track record, how accurate have they been in the past.

    Finally, we need to like at the whole picture, not just one part of it. It is intellectually dishonest to only look at one side of any subject, the use of fossil fuels included. Many spend far to much time looking at all the negatives of using fossil fuels and never consider the positives. As I stated earlier that is just plain being dishonest.

    I personally fear we are jumping to conclusions and making laws based on sound bites and limited information. Those in government are coming to conclusions based on mislead public perception that has been molded by a bias media instead of honest research and fact.

    • wirerowe

      A mandate is put into place to force something that otherwise couldn't happen. Since First Energy could meet the requirements, a mandate is not necessary. Even if you replace could with should, we do not need this bill. The market will decide. if renewables are reliable, scalable, and cheaper then they will gain market share.

      • Bill Hill

        The major problem with renewables is they are neither scalable or reliable. Solar only works when the sun shines. Wind is only good as long as the wind blows. There is no way to store the power either of these methods produce for use when the sun doesn't shine or the wind don't blow. Additionally, the amount of and required for either of these methods is prohibitive.

        The use of biofuels recently create havoc with food prices. All that is required for that to happen again is a poor year or the requirements be raised.

        Cellulosic biofuels have not perfected to work on a large scale.

        We can talk about nuclear energy, but fears of radioactive issues rules that out. We can also talk about hydroelectric generation, but you can only dam so many rivers, and then there are conservation issues to be considered.

        It comes down to this, the simple fact is, if we want reliable energy, that is inexpensive, and easily produced fossil fuels is what we'll be using.

        All government intervention does in its picking winners and losers is run the cost of energy up and if they continue to do so will make it less reliable.

        • mentor

          manchins {bait and switch } I mean cap and trade law wasn't passed for long range plansjust for him and his cronys life why no audit in 2009

        • Wirerowe

          Agree 100% . Sorry I misread where you were coming from.

    • Silas Lynch

      Your fears are justifiable. However, I wouldn't say we are "jumping to conclusions" I would say we are more likely being methodically and with purpose lead to a particular conclusion of climate change

      I always point to Giza, home of the Sphinx-- When built some 5000 years ago Giza was a rich, lush land of green vegetation but long before Jefferson put pen to the US Constitution and the US was born, Giza was a dried, dead, desert... What caused that climate to change? Not coal mined in West Virginia.....

  • WV Common Tatert

    I have yet to see a strategy by which the US can do without coal or gas using only Solar, or wind for that matter, other than bringing back the candle. Realistically, Solar is pretty much a waste of time and resources. If we want to do away with coal, we must go nuclear.

    • Silas Lynch

      ....and of course the government never waste our time nor our money....

  • Silas Lynch

    Hoppy give this coal argument up!! In case you haven't been paying attention the state lawmakers of the all important electoral state of Florida have come down on the side of Solar Powered energy--- what is remarkable about this are that these new efforts to switch from the reliance on coal fired power plants to as much GREEN energy as possible is lead by the TEA Party candidates in the Florida Legislation... In an unlikely alliance between the Tea Party and environmentalist,, it looks like coal is dead in that state.... Now, what are we going to do about it with our 5 electoral votes and our 5 JUNIOR representatives in DC? Arguing for the future of coal is akin to Nero fiddling...

    • Silas Lynch

      should read Florida Legislature,, I think,, hell, at this point who cares, anyway.. We're all just prolonging the inevitable...

      Hoppy, the fate of coal is already determined... It's already dead or dying... Now, help get another industry in this state besides trout fishing and snow skiing......

      • JustaFan

        Giving the coal argument is up would be stupid for many reasons.

        I agree whole heartily that we need more industry in this state other than coal. Cheap electricity is a good carrot.

        America's current retreat from coal and other fossils fuels is putting our national security at risk. We currently to NOT possess the technology to use energy sources other than fossils fuels as a base load energy source. Wind and solar are great supplements, but they will not be replacing fossil fuels anytime soon, unless you want rationed power and rolling brown outs.

        • Silas Lynch

          I never said arguing in favor of coal wasn't a justifiable argument,, I just said it was a waste of time.... The anti-coal movement is winning,,, and likely already won....

          • NORM

            war will heal all ailments

  • Hop'sHip

    This legislature wasn't elected to change the way we look at the world. It was elected to reinforce the West Virginia way. If some of the rest of the world finds that to be backward, who needs them. West Virginians who find it backward are free to move out to one of those forward-looking places.

    • susanf1218

      And your attitude is exactly why WV will continue to languish. Good old WV, where nothing ever changes.

      • Hop'sHip

        It's not MY attitude. It's the attitude reflected in the comments found here daily. I am merely playing the role of the chronicler.

    • Hop'sHip

      Meant as a reply to Michelle

  • Michelle

    WV shouldn't put its head in sand as rest of the world moves beyond coal. We are falling further and further behind and it will take us two generations to catch back up.

    • Wirerowe

      The world is not moving beyond coal. The U.S. use of coal will be down this year because of a relatively warm winter and cheap gas prices. The EIa projects coal use to increase slightly within the next 15 years but to lose market share to natural gas. Coal use and new power plant construction is increasing abroad. Notably in West Germeny which made a big push to mandated renewables and found high price increases they have switched back to coal, All of the above shoukd be our strategy and all of the above does not envision as this bill does mandating some fuels over another.

      • Wirerowe

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/14/world-coal-consumption-oil_n_4095221.html

        • WVU Common Tater

          The Greens are in real trouble when such an article appears in the Huffington Post. Coal is not dead, remember when the saying, The South will rise again, was almost a joke. Now look at it, SC, FL, TX, etc.

          The law was like a lot of other products of the Democratic Legislature, Feel Good Legislation, that cost money and does nothing.

    • JustaFan

      I don't give a rat's @ss what the rest of the world is doing. What, are we in the 7th grade??????

  • WV Grad

    Yep.