March 24, 2023 - With the passage of several bills this Legislative Session, state policy makers took unprecedented steps to stabilize the region’s electric grid and encourage the development of energy using West Virginia coal.
“All West Virginians should thank their legislator and the Governor for prioritizing the reliability of our electric grid and the maximization of our in-state coal resources,” said Chris Hamilton, president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “The package of legislation they passed and the Governor signed will help protect us against us against calamitous weather events, like winter storm this past December that almost brought down the grid, and ensure jobs for our miners and continued economic activity for our communities.”
In particular, House Bill 3482, House Bill 3303, and Senate Bill 609 will have lasting impact on West Virginia families, Hamilton said.
House Bill 3482 creates the Coal Fired Grid Stabilization and Security Act of 2023, which will encourage the development, transportation, and use of electricity generated using West Virginia coal as the energy source for generating electricity. The bill directs the Department of Economic Development to designate sites viable for coal electric generation projects.
House Bill 3303 will offer assistance to expand the continued operation and reliance on West Virginia coal for mine operations, coal-fired electric utilities, and other coal assets in the state. Additionally, the bill will enhance the activities of the Coalfield Community Development Office to aid the industry while also implementing an educational program to promote the state’s coal industry.
SB 609 requires Public Energy Authority approval for any existing utility or non-utility plant fueled by coal, oil or natural gas that may be decommissioned or deconstructed.
Other important coal industry-backed legislation that crossed the finish line included the expansion of Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) restrictions on state investments, “deliberate intent” reform under the state’s Worker’s Compensation programs, a reduction in the state’s personal income and property taxes.
“We are very appreciative of Governor Justice and the Legislature for enacting legislation to protect our energy resources while positioning us to withstand President Biden and the national Democratic party’s all-out assault on coal and fossil energy,” said Hamilton.