State leader says we need gradual strategy to move to renewables

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The future of coal took another hit this week when First Energy announced plans to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050. Chairman of the House of Delegates Energy Committee Bill Anderson is committed to a gradual plan that will help diversify the state energy economy.

“West Virginia I think is transitioning to a different mix in our energy generation, we’re still going to be a major energy producing state,” Anderson said on MetroNews Talkline.

In addition to windmills and solar availability, West Virginia has vast natural gas resources and the possibility of developing more hydroelectric capabilities.

A number of companies use renewable energy to manufacture goods and prominently communicate that with product packaging. Many consumers are willing to pay a premium to reduce carbon emissions, leading many corporations to require renewables as part of incentive packages for relocation.

“If we want to be in competition for those kinds of investments by these kinds of corporations,” Anderson said,” We’re going to have to offer what they seem to be looking for.”

First Energy, an electricity provider to millions of families and businesses has announced a plan to be carbon neutral by 2050 and reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent in 2030.

Like First Energy, Anderson believes the transition in West Virginia needs to be a well thought out gradual strategy.

“You can mitigate it over time and lessen the trauma upon the people of this state, the workers of this state and the industry of this state,” Anderson said.

Coal is still a key resource of the national economy and a vital part of maintaining quality of life. Some efforts to transition away from fossil fuels have created serious unintended consequences for many across the country.

“This summer in California they had rolling brown outs in parts of the state because they could not keep up with the electrical demand,” Anderson said,” Coal is by far the base load generator at this time.”

Finding the right balance and timeline to wean the economy off coal is the “sweet spot” in the battle to stay profitable and competitive in economic development.

“This constant upping of the standards and forcing these coal-fired plants to go in and retrofit and rebuild drives the cost of that kind of generation up,” Anderson said,” And that cost is passed on to the rate payers.”