Address the coal question
News last week that the W.H. Sammis Power Plant in Jefferson County will be closing was a blow to the region’s economy. But it is bad news for the nation as a whole, too.
FirstEnergy Solutions revealed it will close three coal-fired generating units at the plant on June 1, 2022. The facility’s diesel-fueled unit will close a year earlier.
In addition, FirstEnergy will shut down its coal-fired generating plant in Shippingport, Pa.,
An estimated 550 people will lose their jobs when the plants close. Many more in the plant communities will be affected indirectly.
So yes, the news was a hammer-blow to the local economy.
FirstEnergy officials have sought help from President Donald Trump’s administration to keep the plants open. Precisely what the company wants has not been disclosed.
Closure of both coal-fired and nuclear power plants throughout the nation has been blamed on two factors: First, utilities say low-priced natural gas is a more attractive fuel than coal for generating electricity. Second, “alternatives” such as solar and wind power are cheaper, they say.
But you get what you pay for, as has been pointed out many times.
Solar and wind power indeed are cheaper sources of power in one way. Breezes and sunshine cost nothing.
But when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, you are out of luck.
For generations, coal has been a reliable and economical source of electricity for tens of millions of Americans. But, because of former President Barack Obama’s war on coal and affordable electricity, the cost of building new coal-fired plants has skyrocketed.
Trump already has done much to roll back anti-coal initiatives at the federal level. But, as we have suggested previously, his actions may come too late for some coal-fired power plants.
What can be done to retain enough coal-fired generating capacity to ensure Americans can rely on the electric grid? We honestly don’t know. But it is a question the Trump administration needs to address — now.