GOP lawmaker proposes tax credit for coal plants

GOP lawmaker proposes tax credit for coal plants
© Greg Nash

A Republican lawmaker is proposing a tax credit that would subsidize the operation of coal-fired power plants.

Rep. Larry BucshonLarry Dean Bucshon Trump unveils plan to help kidney patients in push to lower health costs House Republican: Disclosing drug prices in TV ads 'doesn't help the consumer very much' GOP lawmaker has 'a lot of concerns' over coverage if ObamaCare is overturned MORE’s (R-Ind.) bill, the Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act, seeks to stem the tide of hundreds of recent coal plant closures — an issue driven primarily by economic concerns and environmental regulations.

“Without the reliable baseload power provided by coal-fired generation, the power grid may not be able to handle the electricity needs of American consumers during a sustained period of peak demand like 2014’s Polar Vortex or the recent Bomb Cyclone,” Bucshon said in a Wednesday statement announcing the bill.

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“It is critical that we ensure our nation enjoys a reliable and resilient grid, and that consumers continue to have access to affordable and reliable electricity,” he said.

“The Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act will help achieve this by leveling the playing field and help avoid more coal-fired power plant retirements while Congress, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, grid operators, and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation continue working together to ensure that the nation’s electricity grid is both reliable and resilient,” he said.

The bill would let coal-fired power plant operators take a tax credit to recover up to 30 percent of the costs of their operation and maintenance expenses. It would last for five years.

It comes amid growing pressure from the Trump administration, the coal industry and its allies to save uneconomic coal plants, which are closing at a historic pace amid competition from cheaper power sources like natural gas.

Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryInstagram: No, old posts aren't being made public The credible case for Texas and its clean energy solutions Oversight: Trump confidant Tom Barrack pushed for Saudi nuclear plant construction MORE proposed last year mandating that electric grid operators pay more money to coal and nuclear plants, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected the plan.

Competing energy sources like renewables and natural gas have fought both Perry’s proposal and other ideas to incentivize coal over other sources, as have environmental groups.

The coal industry applauded Bucshon bill.

“We support the Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act because the continued retirement of coal-fired power plants across the country is threatening the reliability and resilience of the nation’s electricity grid,” said Paul Bailey, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

“We are grateful that Congressman Bucshon has introduced legislation that would provide a temporary solution to coal retirements while policymakers evaluate what steps should be taken to ensure the grid is reliable and resilient,” he said.

National Mining Association President Hal Quinn said the proposal “is a necessary measure that will help to safeguard the reliability and resiliency of the nation’s power grid.

“The credit will help arrest the dramatic retirement of these power plants that provide reliable capacity, resilient generation and critical support services to the grid,” Quinn said.