Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith says Obama administration regulations will further cripple coal-fired power plants and another brutal winter in the northeast could mean a power shortages for businesses in the region.
Griffith, who represents coal-rich southwestern Virginia and sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says power grids are already stressed and regulations that will soon take effect will push the region past the breaking point if we get another winter like this one.
“In January of next year, a lot of coal plants have to close down based on regulations already passed. We’re not even talking about new facilities. We’re talking about older facilities that are being shut down because they can’t meet the new requirements,” said Griffith.
“A number of places had a hard time keeping the grid fully supplied with electricity. They asked people to cut back in the northeast. Gas prices went through the roof. A big part of that’s going to be gone next year. If we were to have another cold snap next year, I’m afraid we would have serious problems,” he said.
Griffith says Obama administration regulations not only endanger future coal-fired plants but also make the operation of existing plants a losing proposition.
“I believe the administration wants to eliminate coal as a fuel source. They’re putting regulations in place on new buildings of coal facilities. You can’t even find the technology today to really make those facilities work. It doesn’t exist. The best estimates are maybe seven, ten or maybe longer years before we can even come close to matching the regulations that the EPA wants,” said Griffith.
“On older facilities, it just doesn’t make sense for some companies to retrofit or retool those to meet the regulations to meet the regulations that they’ve been passing over the last several years. Come next January, a lot of those plants are going to shut down,” said Griffith.
The congressman says this is not some doom and gloom prophecy. He says it’s happening in his district.
“In my district alone, we have two facilities. One is shutting down completely. The other is converting two-thirds of their production to natural gas, but the natural gas won’t produce as much electricity as it did in the past. So when you hit those peak periods, usually in the wintertime with cold and sometimes in the summertime with heat, we won’t have as much electricity available next year as we have this year,” said Griffith.
“There won’t be enough new power sources brought on board by next year. If we have the same kind of conditions next year then we’re going to have serious issues. I think we may have some situations where companies say, ‘We can’t supply your factory. We’ve got to make sure the hospitals and the people who have homes are staying warm. I understand that, there’s no need for it,” he said.
Even if the lights stay on for everyone, Griffith says the price of energy during times of high demand will continue to skyrocket and people are already feeling the stress.
“We heard testimony this week in committee that even this year, with the rising cost of electricity, the (Northern Arkansas Electric Cooperative) president said we’re going to have choices made. This one lady that called him and he talked to personally said, ‘I figured out how I can pay my electric bill this winter. I’ll take my medication every other day,'” said Griffith.
Griffith says he and other congressional Republicans have repeatedly warned the Obama administration that it’s regulations are costing jobs and threatening energy supplies. He says he administration’s response has not been encouraging.
“What they have always said is that they don’t think that many plants will retire. They’ve been wrong on that number. The announcements of these retirements have been out there and it’s much higher than the administration originally estimated. I think that they’re hoping that we won’t have that kind of a winter next year, and I’m with them,” said Griffith.
“I think some (in the administration) believe that they can get enough natural gas in there to make it happen. The infrastructure, I don’t believe, can be built in time if in the next several winters we have a really cold winter. I think they’re hoping that they won’t have to face it, that they won’t have to have a cold winter. I’m worried that we will,” said Griffith.
He says the results we’ve already seen from Obama-era regulations and the projections for what will happen offer an unmistakable message to policymakers.
“The EPA needs to go in and make their regulations much more reasonable across the board. Even though they may want another energy source, right now coal is still one of the largest energy sources in this country. To have made the regulations so strict so quickly is going to impact business in America. It’s already impacting the cost of providing electricity for people in their homes. It’s going to impact business and it’s going to have other negative impacts,” said Griffith.