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Capito says coal-fired power plants need post-winter tax help

“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.”

Existing coal-fired power plants would receive a temporary tax credit to help pay for operation and maintenance costs under a bill introduced on April 16 by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

“Recent winter storms have highlighted just how important it is that we have access to affordable and reliable energy sources, and as it has done time and time again over the years, coal proved to be exactly what we needed to power the country,” said Sen. Capito, a member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act, S. 2677, would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to establish a temporary, five-year tax credit to offset a portion of operation and maintenance expenses for existing coal-fired plants that qualify.

S. 2677 is the Senate version of the House of Representatives measure, H.R. 5270, introduced on March 14 by U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), who was joined by cosponsors including U.S. Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY), Evan Jenkins (R-WV), and Steve Stivers (R-OH).

“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,” Sen. Capito added. “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.”

Thousands of power outages occurred during recent winter storms, but coal-fired plants using variable energy generation units continued to generate energy. Speaking in support of the bill, West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney said the tax credit is “urgently needed” to preserve the ability of coal-fired power plants to generate energy on “a balanced-field basis” with their industry competitors.

“This economic step is sorely needed today as the past administration penalized the coal-burning utilities with costly, unreasonable and unachievable regulations that raised the cost of electricity for everyone,” Raney said. “Quick action is hoped for as the very survival of a reliable electric grid, one that we all can have confidence in, is at stake.”

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity also supports S. 2677, according to President and CEO Paul Bailey, who applauded Sen. Capito’s introduction of the bill.

“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,” Bailey said. “However, premature coal retirements will continue unless steps are taken, such as the enactment of this legislation. We are grateful that Sen. Capito has introduced the Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act and look forward to working with Congress to enact it.”

H.R. 5270 is under consideration by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. S. 2677 has been referred to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

The Ripon Advance