Recently, the Sierra Club has been spreading a blatantly false narrative that the rolling blackouts experienced during Winter Storm Elliott in Kentucky on December 23 were the result of the failure of coal-fired generating units to meet demand. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In reality, it was the region’s remaining coal-fired power generation fleet that ramped up to meet the demand during the deep freeze that engulfed the region in December.
Yes, Kentucky-based combined utilities, LG&E and KU, were forced to institute rolling blackouts from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the evening of December 23. But it wasn’t due to the failure of our coal-fired generation capacity. In fact, during these rolling blackouts, their combined coal units — totaling 5,100 MW of capacity — operated at a collective capacity factor of 90% and provided more than 70% of the energy required to keep our electric grid from complete failure. Had it not been for our coal plants, it is likely the entire grid would have collapsed at the very time when it was needed the most to provide the heat on which Kentucky lives were depending.
This is exactly why the Kentucky Coal Association opposes the closure of any more of our remaining coal generation units, as has been requested by LG&E and KU. Electric reliability is such a critical issue; it should not be sacrificed for political considerations.
If the 1,500 MW of coal units the companies have requested approval to retire had not been available during the critical time on December 23 undoubtedly the power outage would have been much worse, and lives would have been lost. Is this what we want? Is this what Kentucky wants? Is this what Americans want?
Are you willing to gamble the lives of your loved ones on the Ponzi scheme that is renewable energy? Are you willing to accept the empty, proven false promises of the “Big Green Money Machine?”
Coal-fired power generation is a proven technology. For generations, it has met the demands of the growing economic powerhouse that was America, with no problems and without calls for rolling blackouts. Through any weather, the coal trains rolled, each train delivering 10,000 tons of reliable, affordable coal to power plants across the country.
The reality is simple and easy to see… only when the green lobby and their friends in Washington began their relentless assault on coal generation — closing thousands of MW of coal-fired power plants and replacing them with solar and wind generation — did these problems begin, and they get worse with each passing day.
Apparently, the Sierra Club lives in some weird Orwellian world where up is down and left is right, where “reality” is whatever they decide it to be. Fortunately, most people don’t live in that world. We live in a world bounded by objective reality — a world where people need reliable energy, not fairy dust and pixie sprinkles. And we don’t appreciate blatant lies.
However, one thing this did accomplish — it laid bare the contempt for the average American that the Sierra Club holds. It clearly shows they believe they can pull the wool over the eyes of American families.
Everyday, thousands of folks working in the mining industry roll up their sleeves and work hard to benefit all of Kentucky – yes, even those who wish to destroy their businesses. Even the members of the Sierra Club, the industry’s most ardent opposition, benefit greatly from reliable and affordable electricity. Those folks will never acknowledge the many communities that are given good wages, stability, and economic growth all from coal. Energy policy is not just about vague hopes and dreams of a “green future”, its real lives and real jobs.
So, once again this past winter, coal kept the lights on for the people of Kentucky. Coal will keep us safe and warm whether we see the worst snow storms on record, or a mild flurry. And remember, the coal units set to retire provided one-third of the coal generation that kept our power grid from complete and total failure.
Tucker Davis is President of the Kentucky Coal Association.