America’s energy security – our access to affordable, domestic energy sources – is closely linked to our economic security, and a national discussion over what path America should take to achieve energy security has led some to debate the idea of “fuel switching.” These regulations and laws, which would force America’s power plants to replace their use of coal with less reliable, more expensive sources of electricity, would have significant negative impacts on our economy.
What are some of those impacts?
More Expensive Electricity for Families, Job Creators: For working families, less money spent on electricity bills means more money for other household necessities. We need to continue providing businesses with a reliable supply of affordable electricity to get our economy back on track so we can maintain existing jobs and create millions of new ones. The cost of generating electricity from coal is one-third to one-fifth the cost of producing electricity from natural gas. If power plants are forced to switch from a stable, low-cost fuel to a fluctuating, high-cost fuel, many American families simply won’t be able to afford other household necessities they need today.
Job Losses: According to initial findings from the National Economic Research Associates (sponsored by ACCCE), two proposed EPA regulations on power plants would lead to 13 percent of coal-fueled electricity generation decreasing over the next five years, being replaced by more expensive sources of energy. Every job that two proposed EPA regulations on power plants would create, four other jobs would be lost, with over 1.4 million job-years being lost from 2013 to 2020.
Less-Reliable Electricity: Electricity is produced in baseload power and peaking power. Baseload power is the energy necessary to keep the electricity grid working around the clock to meet a constant demand. Peaking power is energy that comes on and off throughout the day, when electricity usage and energy demand goes up. Peaking power can use intermittent power sources like solar and wind that produce electricity only when there’s sufficient direct sunlight or sufficient sustained wind speed. While using renewable sources like solar and wind to diversify our peaking power is a great option when conditions allow, baseload power must use more reliable fuels such as coal, which can provide energy 24 hours a day. By reducing the place of coal as an option for baseload energy, electricity reliability could suffer.
For more facts about the coal-fueled electricity industry, and how it compare to other sources of energy, go to CoalFacts.org.
President Obama visits Iowa today, to emphasize the importance of the manufacturing sector to the American economy. Iowa is home to many U.S. manufacturers, and the state gets 72 percent of its electricity from coal, giving it the 12th lowest electricity prices in the nation. The coal-based electricity industry and the manufacturing industry are closely linked, and any manufacturer small or large will tell you the role affordable, reliable energy plays in making their business profitable.
Robyn Hempfling of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is part of this manufacturing industry. She makes high-tech circuit boards at Dynamic Manufacturing. Let Robyn share how her ability to keep people working and stay competitive depends on affordable electricity generated by coal:
In Toledo, Ohio, Olivia Albright owns a small business that takes finished manufactured products and packages them for commercial customers. All down the production chain, as Olivia explains, low-cost electricity allows business owners to focus on their employees and making a quality product.
American Electric Power recently announced that proposed EPA regulations would force the shutdown of five coal-fueled power plants and the reduction of power generation at six other power plants, further harming electricity reliability. This would go along with a net loss of 600 power plant jobs with annual wages totaling approximately $40 million. Yet, in an editorial last week, the New York Times argued that this evidence showing how proposed EPA regulations would harm our economic and energy security was “cynical.”
[C]alling American Electric Power cynical was dismissive of the 600 A.E.P. workers who stand to lose their jobs years ahead of schedule because of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations. While a few more years on the job may not seem like much to you, I am sure that the 600 workers and their families feel differently.
Miller also points out that future legislation and regulations coming from Washington should emphasize, not weaken, coal’s role in a balanced energy portfolio:
There is a reason coal generates nearly half of our nation’s electricity: because it’s affordable, abundant, reliable and increasingly clean. We need energy policies that take advantage of coal’s importance to the United States, not diminish it.
Click here to see the initial findings from the National Economic Research Associates on negative effects these proposed EPA regulations on power plants would have on jobs and energy prices.
Evan Tracey Senior Vice President for Communications
Evan is Senior Vice President for Communications, overseeing the strategy on how to communicate the importance of electricity from coal and the value of investments in clean coal technology. Tracey has served as president of Campaign Media Analysis Group, a Kantar Media company, since he founded the company in 1997. He has two decades of political, legislative and issue research experience and has provided strategic media analysis for a number of trade associations, foundations, Fortune 500 companies, political party committees, the national press, academic institutions, as well as hundreds of national, statewide and local political campaigns. He received a M.A. from George Mason University and a B.A. from West Virginia Wesleyan College. Tracey lives with his wife and 3 children in Virginia.
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Lisa Camooso Miller Vice President
Lisa Camooso Miller is ACCCE's vice president for media relations. She oversees ACCCE's earned media implementation and strategic planning and appears regularly in print, radio and on national television. For more than 15 years, Lisa has been a notable communications leader in public affairs, holding key positions in local, state and federal government, political campaigns and committees, as well as advocacy organizations. She is a native of Wayside, New Jersey, and holds an M.A. in corporate and public communications from Monmouth University, and a B.A. in communications from The College of New Jersey. Lisa and her husband Jason have two children and live in Northern Virginia.
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Bianca Prade Vice President
Bianca Prade is ACCCE's vice president of digital strategy, and leads new and traditional media strategies to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of coal-based electricity. She has more than a decade of communications and marketing experience, launching and maintaining interactive Web content for major corporations, trade associations and government agencies. Bianca lives with her husband and two children in Northern Virginia. She graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland at College Park and an M.A. in interactive communications from American University.
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Steve Gates Director
Steve Gates, as ACCCE’s national communications director, helps direct the industry’s national media campaigns and digital communications efforts. He has more than 15 years of media relations experience in a variety of settings including Capitol Hill press secretary, as well as directing media and outreach programs for international trade associations, the Fortune 200 and federal government programs. Steve lives with his wife, a coal miner’s daughter, and three children in Omaha, Nebraska. Steve graduated with a B.S. in political science from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and an M.A. in public communications from American University in Washington, D.C.
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The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is committed to the idea that America can have the affordable, reliable electricity we need, with the clean environment we want. ACCCE’s Behind the Plug blog is the place for up-to-date news and analysis on clean coal technology developments and energy policy progress.
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