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What the coronavirus pandemic has taught us about the nation’s electric grid

Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to President Obama, infamously stated, “you never let a serious crisis go to waste.” It appears that advocates of green power sources – such as wind and solar – have taken this advice as gospel as they are looking at the next Congressional action to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to promote tax extenders for intermittent sources of electricity.

This is exactly what the country doesn’t need. During this time of providing essential services to keep our society going, it is dispatcheable baseload sources that our medical communities require to keep the much needed ventilators and other hospital equipment working 24-7. To dream that intermittent sources can ever replace baseload source – such as coal-based power plants – is just that, a pipe dream.

The Lignite Energy Council has reached out to our Congressional Delegation and has urged them to reject any further tax extenders. After all, a moratorium on renewable tax extenders had been agreed upon several years ago. The production tax credit that was included in the federal budget bill passed in December already went back on this promise. Since then, our two U.S. Senators have attempted to introduce legislation to rescind it.

We would support additional funding to commercialize a near-zero emission coal-based power for the United States. This could be considered a win-win for green power advocates and for workers in traditional generation.

With pandemic affecting everyone’s lives and livelihoods and the harsh temperature extremes in states like North Dakota, dispatchable power sources are not a luxury, they are a necessity.

Let your voice be heard. Contact your member of Congress and tell them “no” to tax extenders and “yes” to funding for technology development to commercialize carbon capture and storage technologies.

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