This Week In the Legislature: Soliday’s “Coal Lifeline” HB 1414 Is a Bad Bet for Hoosiers

Coal Fired Plant Michigan City Indiana

HB 1414 was introduced by Representative Ed Soliday, and passed to the full house along a party line vote of 9-4 on Wednesday. It provides that no public utility may shut down or reduce production at a coal-burning power plant without first getting permission from the state regulatory commission, unless the federal government or a state agency has ordered the shut-down.

This is not a bill that the energy companies have requested, and in fact, several have spoken against it. The energy companies have already started moving away from coal in favor of cheaper natural gas and other alternate energy sources like solar and wind, which have become more reliable and cost effective.

Why is this a bad bill for Hoosiers?

Artificially propping up an industry that the markets are no longer behind could end up raising rates. Utilities make decisions about power sources based upon costs; if they have decided that coal no longer makes sense financially, then Hoosiers could easily end up paying the price for a move like this bill in the form of higher utility bills.

Fiscal issues aside, though, we already struggle with air quality here in Northwest Indiana. We have to get emissions tests because our air quality is so poor. My family has personally struggled with air quality issues. Our daughter had asthma that was very difficult to control, and our son developed allergies so severe that our asthma/allergist suggested we move away from the area. When they went away to college, both were able to stop taking their medications, however, when they return for a visit, they both have returning symptoms and have to seek medical attention or start taking medication.

Here’s the long and short of it: coal’s time has passed, and we no longer need to be reliant on it as our primary source of energy. It is time for us to move toward less expensive, cleaner, alternate, renewable energy sources which create good jobs and a healthier air quality.

Follow the Money

The only logic for this bill is to follow the money. Who is paying big contributions to get this bill to pass?