McKinley Highlights Importance of Mitchell Power Plant to West Virginia Economy, Local Community

McKinley Speaks at Public Service Commission Hearing on Future of Power Plant

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative David McKinley P.E. (R-W.Va.) testified at a hearing of the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) regarding the Mitchell Power Plant and its role in providing West Virginia and other states with resilient and reliable electricity as well as the importance of jobs and tax revenue supported by the power plant.

Late last year, American Electric Power filed an application with the West Virginia PSC with two options– invest in upgrades to the Mitchell Power Plant to allow it to operate through 2040 or retire the plant early in 2028. Those upgrades would require a rate increase, which would have to be agreed upon by the PSC.

Below are excerpts from McKinley’s remarks:

In its mission statement the PSC is charged with providing for reliable utility services throughout the state and taking into account the “general interest of the state’s economy”. The Mitchell Power Plant is critical to fulfilling this mission which is why we hope it remains operational through 2040.

To that end, the PSC today is faced with two options, approve the upgrades and rates required to keep the plant operational through 2040 or allow the plant to close by 2028. Others will reinforce this message that the Mitchell Plant is a significant economic driver in the region and prematurely retiring the plant would have ripple effects throughout West Virginia’s economy, jobs would be lost, tax revenue needed to fund schools and first responders would disappear, businesses like machine shops, barge operators, coal mines, railroad workers and restaurants would suffer, Gypsum Plant that’s supplied by Mitchell would fold, neighboring communities would be devastated and the reliability of our electric grid would decrease.

As a back story to all of this drama is the political discussion in Washington and elsewhere to discontinue the use of fossil fuels by reducing their emissions by 80% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.

From an engineering perspective, developing reliable and cost effective renewable energy production using wind, solar, hydro, nuclear and biomass should be our country’s objectives.

But transitioning to 100 percent renewables by 2035 and allowing the Mitchell Power Plant to close is more aspirational than realistic, one driven by politics and not by science.

This is the consensus of virtually every utility company in America and energy think tanks. Over the next nine years, America can ill afford to gamble with the reliability of our aging electric grid as our energy demands increase

And compounding the dilemma is that West Virginia currently gets 90 percent of its electricity from coal

……

Coal and natural gas generated 60 percent of PJM’s electricity in 2020 according to its 2020 state of the market report.

Since renewables provide less than 10% of PJM’s electricity, further decreases in generation sources bring reliability and resilience into question

Net zero electricity generation doesn’t have to mean absolute zero fossil energy generation, carbon capture technology will enable us to utilize our fossil energy resources with net zero and even achieve net negative carbon emissions.

…….

Mitchell has and will continue to play a critical role in this market by ensuring its customers energy reliability through this transition. While at the same time protecting the Mitchell Plant’s contributions to West Virginia’s economy

Proposed rate increases to keep Mitchell open pale in comparison to the devastation that would come with its closure.

If the PSC is committed to its mission in providing reliable energy and looking out for the general interests of the economy. Hopefully you will take action to keep the Mitchell Power Plant operational through 2040.

Background:

Economic impact of the Mitchell Power Plant:

  • Over 180 direct jobs
  • Over 470 indirect jobs
  • Generates nearly $9million in state and local tax revenue

To learn more on the impact click here.

 

Last week, McKinley and dozens of locals turned out to express concerns over the proposed closure of the Mitchell Power Plant. Click here to read more.

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