Citing the shrinking of Mylan’s West Virginia operations, West Virginia Coal Association Vice President Chris Hamilton pleaded for shielding the coal industry from market forces in a recent op-ed. West Virginia politicians must do everything imaginable to protect coal, Hamilton said.
Wind and, especially solar, are today, hands-down, cheaper energy sources than coal. If it’s cheaper to build and operate a solar plant than simply to operate a coal plant, what will a utility’s sensible business choice be? Which choice will customers make?
Let the coal association seek government aid in employing the state’s highly skilled workers in wind or solar plant construction and operations on disused mine land, or in deep-mine-based, pumped-hydro mega-battery energy storage facilities, like Germany’s former Prosper-Haniel mine site project. Prosper-Haniel is cited in the Nov. 2020 “Marshall Plan for Middle America,” which the mayors of Huntington and Morgantown have signed.
The plan addresses the future economic interests of businesses and citizens of Appalachia, and has noted that Prosper-Haniel is, “a regional transition project [which] has succeeded through mobilizing the support of large coal, steel and chemical companies, ... along with universities, trade unions and government support at all levels.”
Alternatively, let the coal association support a tax-and-dividend carbon fee plan as so many oil companies have done, which would protect ordinary citizens from rising energy prices and encourage job growth in new sustainable businesses.
Let the association do any of these things, before it petitions government for a policy of favoritism.
Regan E. Quinn