Nuclear scrapped from energy bill

by Michelle Saxton
Daily Mail Capitol Reporter
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- House Finance Committee members nuked a proposal Wednesday to include nuclear energy in the governor's Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio bill before advancing it to the full floor.
The bill originally did not include nuclear energy as an alternative energy resource.
"The amendment removed nuclear energy, and I think that's an important substantive improvement to the bill," said Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson, a member of the finance committee. "I don't think West Virginia should be encouraging the use of nuclear energy anywhere."
Senator Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, had been a strong advocate early in the session for putting all forms of alternative energy up for discussion, including nuclear.
"To exclude it I think shows insecurity on our part," McCabe said. "We should be more confident."
"We need to look at the big picture," McCabe said.
Other alternative energy resources in the bill include advanced coal technology, waste coal, natural gas, hydroelectric projects and fuel produced by coal gasification or liquefaction.
"Coal is our number one resource down here and we've got to try to give the governor something to negotiate with on the federal level to try to protect our coal industry," said House Finance Chair Harry Keith White, D-Mingo. "I think it's a step. We'll see what happens.
Doyle questioned including natural gas as an alternative energy source.
"I'm a big fan of natural gas because it burns clean, and I do think we should encourage more of it," Doyle said. "But I don't think it's alternative energy."
That classification could help the natural gas industry, which is struggling, White said.
"They'll be able to get credits ... an alternative fuel credit for production of, designation of alternative energy by natural gas," White said.
According to the bill, the Public Service Commission shall establish a system of tradable credits regarding electricity from alternative and renewable energy resource facilities.
Meanwhile, McCabe said West Virginia needs to place a stronger focus on renewable energy but at the same time increase the focus on energy research as it relates to carbon capture sequestration and more efficient uses of gray energy, or trying to capture lost energy in the manufacturing process.
"We ought to be a leader in that regard in West Virginia because of our traditional heavy industry economy," McCabe said.