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. But today, coal-fired power generating plants are being closed at an alarming rate. Since 2010, plants representing almost 108,000 megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity have shut down or announced plans to close. Indiana alone ranks second among all states with 39 coal-fired electric generating plants having already retired.
As a supporter of an all-the-above energy strategy, I believe that power generators should rely on a diverse mix of fuel sources. Coal-fired generation is one of the most reliable, resilient, and affordable sources of energy. Without this essential baseload fuel, the power grid may not be able to handle the electricity needs of American consumers during a sustained period of peak demand like those caused by 2014’s Polar Vortex or the recent Bomb Cyclone.
However, federal policies are distorting the energy marketplace and creating an uneven playing field that favors less reliable, less resilient, and less affordable sources of electricity. For decades, renewables have received substantial taxpayer funded subsidies and will continue receiving government support for the near future. In fact, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that between 2016 and 2020, renewables will receive $36 billion in subsidies.
Ideally, government subsidies would not exist and instead, market forces alone would determine which sources of energy are preferred for electricity generation. But since they do, Congress must level the playing field. In March, I introduced the Electricity Reliability and Fuel Security Act (H.R. 5270). This legislation creates a temporary tax credit applicable to a select portion of the costs needed to operate and maintain existing coal generation. I believe this temporary credit is necessary to avoid additional premature shutdowns of coal-fired generation while the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, grid operators, and others continue working on solutions to ensure a reliable and resilient electric grid.
The national and economic security of the nation depends on the availability of reliable and affordable electricity. This legislation will continue to ensure that Americans will have secure electricity when they need it most.