OPINION: Submission by Harlan County, KY Judge Executive Dan Mosley
Kentuckians have been faced with high energy bills and increasing costs at the pump and grocery store. These costs will only continue to rise as utility companies plan premature retirements of coal-fired power plants and transition to more expensive, less reliable forms of energy.
Growth and prosperity start with affordable and reliable power. Coal has consistently been the cheapest form of electricity, and for years Kentucky was known for having some of the lowest utility rates in the nation. However, that has changed over the last decade, due to the premature retirement and replacement of coal plants at a time when energy demand is greater than ever.
The retirement of coal plants forces electricity rates higher, saddling Kentucky families with high utility bills. Many of these families already struggle to make ends meet as they face increasing costs at the gas pump, grocery store, doctor’s office and everywhere else.
Unfortunately, this has been the trend since 2013. In the last 10 years, 10 coal-fired plants have been shut down and rates have gone up exponentially. Kentucky went from third in the nation for cheapest electricity to twenty-first.
Recently the PSC hosted a public comment session in Harlan to allow people in the area to share their thoughts about LG&E and KU’s plan to retire four coal-fired power plants and replace them with natural gas, solar and battery storage facilities. As Harlan County Judge Executive, I spoke on behalf of the people I serve, urging the PSC to reject LG&E and KU’s proposal. I was accompanied by my friends and fellow county Judge Executives who see the benefit of reliable power from coal for our counties, Commonwealth and country.
Harlan is my home, my family’s home and my friends’ home. We all rely on affordable and reliable power to keep the lights on and keep our homes, small businesses and hospitals operating and thriving.
With high energy bills and an increasingly unreliable power grid, families are struggling to put food on the table and provide for their daily needs. We can protect Kentucky families by standing up to the myths and outright falsehoods pushed out by those who prioritize their own narrow anti-coal agendas above all else.
Coal keeps the lights on and provides the state with an affordable and reliable source of energy. Coal is especially important here in coal country, where many families depend not only on reliable coal-fired power, but also on the living-wage jobs the Kentucky coal industry has long supported. In addition, coal is a domestic energy source we can rely on and an essential element in our ability to maintain U.S. energy independence.
Germany and several other countries have tried moving away from coal-fired plants, but they have recently started going back to coal. They have learned that the high cost and unreliability of alternative power sources are simply not sustainable and can lead a country to failure.
We must not follow down that path. Retiring more coal-fired plants will undoubtedly hinder the growth and investment Kentucky needs to thrive by making it more difficult to recruit new industries to our county and region.
If the PSC approves this proposal, it will be detrimental to Kentucky ratepayers and communities. It’s my sincere hope the members understand the far-reaching adverse impacts this proposal will have on so many.