Guest Post: In an Emergency, Reliable Electricity Is a Necessity

This guest post was submitted by Jason Bohrer, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Lignite Energy Council.

The coronavirus has forever shaped our lives. Don’t believe me? Just ask the tourism and entertainment industry. Ask the medical personnel at our hospitals and clinics. And, most of all, ask the people who have contracted this disease. 
 
As Congress delivers a response package, we must ensure that the response is measured and appropriate.  It must be focused on what is truly needed to respond to the changing world. The Lignite Energy Council believes that now more than ever the need for resilient power has been demonstrated. We have asked Congress to enact energy policies that are needed in order to enhance our energy security and resilience and to create new breakthrough technologies that ensure the future energy grid is more resilient and efficient than ever. 

We continue to believe investments in carbon capture technologies are part of appropriate energy policy and improving the ability of companies to make these investments will make sure the energy industry’s recovery from the coronavirus will be swift while still maintaining its resilience. To this end, Congress should prioritize tax policies that make this future more likely. 
Second, we remind Congress that the uncertain market conditions that are challenging coal will not go away during this time of crisis; they may, in fact, get worse. 

To this end, Congress should not take any actions that further exacerbate the challenges associated with an uneven playing field. This includes any additional extension of the Production Tax Credit which policymakers and industry agreed was no longer needed years ago, and the prioritization of Senator Hoeven and Cramer’s amendment to repeal the last unneeded and unwanted extension. Instead, Congress should focus on market reform that properly values all attributes of all energy sources—including resilience. 

The Lignite Energy Council also represents hundreds of small businesses who have had their lives turned upside down due to their inability to perform regularly scheduled work at our mines and power plants. These workers make up a portion of the 13,000 coal workers in the state, and they and the employees of our mines and power plants are why we promote and fight for this industry.  

As many workers across the nation feel economic uncertainty, doubt and even fear regarding their futures, many in the coal world feel those same things each day, with politicians openly speaking of putting them out of business and market challenges increasing. For many of our contractor and supplier members, this time of year is like the farmer’s harvest—where all the previous year’s hard work finally pays off.  We ask Congress to enact policies that soften the economic blow to these energy workers. 

Our utility members have also acted on their own to suspend disconnections for people who are unable to pay their bills. We ask Congress to work with utilities on longer-term measures to ensure the most vulnerable members of society are not stranded with no electricity during as we deal with this pandemic. 

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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