US Energy Secretary speaks on clean energy and WV jobs

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When the United States Secretary of Energy spoke in Morgantown Monday at the Mid-Atlantic Region Energy Innovation Forum the conversation quickly centered around tax incentives and the Environmental Protection Agency Clean Power Plan.

The private sector can operate under the plan that calls for a reduction in carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants insisted Dr. Ernest Moniz.

“Getting the tax credits this year would be a very, very big deal. Having the tax credits in place and the trajectory for carbon reductions, in my view, is what the investment community needs,” said Moniz before several dozen state energy leaders.

energy-innovation-forum-3Moniz was part of a panel discussion at the WVU College of Law that included U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and First District Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.).

West Virginia is one of two dozen states challenging the plan in federal court. State attorneys general claim the EPA has over stepped its regulatory authority. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme court issued a “stay” of implementation of the Clean Power Plan as it continues to be challenged.

“Nobody has factored in the economic impact of what it’s done to states like West Virginia and parts of West Virginia such as southern West Virginia, Kentucky and southeast Ohio. I truly believe the courts will be very sympathetic towards that and hopefully give us the time that’s needed to do this,” offered Manchin.

McKinley agreed that a 2030 deadline to reduce CO2 emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels is a reach. But, even sooner is the September 6, 2018 deadline for states that requested extensions from the EPA to submit plans that will create the emission reductions required under the plan.

“I think it’s imperative that the timeline be extended to allow our existing power plants time to retrofit,” McKinley added.

A visit to the Longview Power Plant was arranged for the Energy Secretary. McKinley and Manchin were hoping recent upgrades would leave an impression on Moniz.

“Just think about that. Transformers are there. The electric grid is there. It just makes so much more sense to use our existing facilities to be able to facilitate the needs that we have. But, we’ve got to be able to give the time frame for them to adapt.”

energy-innovation-forum-2Moniz countered that the current administration is making funding available for transitioning to cleaner energy sources.

More than $110 million has been set aside for regional innovative partnerships.

“That amount of funding would go directly to nonprofit organizations in different regions to manage that portfolio of clean energy innovation as they saw fit,” Moniz explained.

In Rhode Island, for instance, those nonprofits may spend that money toward ocean technology Moniz said. In West Virginia, he said it could go toward carbon management technology.

In response to Manchin’s concern over job loss, Moniz lauded the Obama administration’s recent announcement to award $38.8 million for 29 “economic and workforce development projects.” West Virginia would receive about $16 million.

“Some of those funds are going to support a small business development center in Upshur County, an on-the-job training program in Wayne and some entrepreneurship education in Charleston. So, those are just a few of the kinds of things we are doing,” Moniz said.

Both state representatives maintained coal is an important part of the country’s energy security and should continue to be part of America’s energy future.

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