The editorial board got one thing right in its Feb. 6 opinion piece -- the thought of losing our coal-fired power plants is scary! Rep. Nehring introduced House Bill 1458 to the House Finance and Tax Committee and said this bill isn’t an attack on wind, but rather a way for us to correct bad federal policy that is negatively impacting our coal industry and taking away jobs and economic security for thousands of North Dakotans in the meantime. Since 1992, billion-dollar corporations and Wall Street banks have used our landscapes to install wind turbines to reduce their taxes. This has eroded electricity markets with “free” power when the wind blows and undermines the economics of power plants, which we still need when the wind doesn’t blow. We are near the tipping point, where reliable power plants can no longer afford to provide this necessary service and it has been written-off as “progress.” The federal government gives wind energy $18 for every hour a turbine produces electricity for 10 years. HB 1458 would create a state tax for half of that to provide grants to coal-fired power plants that receive $0 per hour for operating from the federal government.
The editorial board called this a futile attempt to undo policy supported in D.C., but this would give us back control of energy policy. We should support efforts to give coal-fired power plants an edge against an industry entirely supported by tax-payers. This bill is a responsible way to counteract an outsized subsidy and uses a portion of these dollars to assist facilities that keep the lights on, no matter the forecast. “All of the above” is becoming “one of the above” when nothing is done to level the playing field. ND must take action on the PTC or we will be left in the dark.
Anna Novak, Hazen