By 2016—which happens to be a presidential election year—American Electric Power Co. (AEP) will have retired more than 6,000 MW of coal-fired power plants. Last week, AEP CEO Nick Akins told a crowd during the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) Annual Convention that AEP’s retired coal generation will not be resurrected because the U.S. is moving to a clean energy economy and that’s what electricity customers want.
I had a chance to meet up with Texas Sen. and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on June 13 in Oklahoma City, so I asked him his thoughts on upcoming EPA regulations that already are affecting electric utilities such as AEP.
(click here to read previous coverage of the Republican candidates for president and their statements on energy policy)
“The Obama administration’s EPA has been unbelievably abusive and it is killing jobs across this country,” Cruz said. “The EPA … listen, everyone wants clean air and clean water. All of us breathe, all of us drink water. It is in our best interest to be good stewards of the environment. The Obama EPA is populated by zealots who aren’t trying to protect the air and water; they’re trying to shut down development. So we’ve seen— for example, you asked about coal—there is a war on coal being waged by the Obama administration. And let’s be clear. President Obama was very candid. He said we will bankrupt every coal mine in America. He didn’t hide what they’re doing. So these regulations are not about clear air or clean water. These are zealots who are trying to shut down development and the energy sector. And in particular, the oil and gas industry, something that is near and dear to the great state of Oklahoma, near and dear to the great state of Texas.
“The Obama administration continues to do everything it can to throw impediments in the way to developing our natural resources. That doesn’t make any sense at all. We’re experiencing an energy renaissance. We ought to be facilitating that rather than having the federal government frustrate it. No. 1, there are enormous national security benefits to American energy independence. We don’t need to be sending billions of dollars to foreign countries in the Middle East, many of whom hate us. We should be relying on our own resources.
“And beyond that, at a time when we’re facing economic stagnation, what an incredible opportunity to continue to generate millions of high-paying jobs—not just in the energy sector—but in manufacturing. You know, look at the blue-collar jobs, the heavy manufacturing, steel industry—the kind of jobs that were the backbone of the American middle class for decades. Those are the ones that have gone overseas. We had the opportunity to bring heavy manufacturing back to America; bring the steel industry back to America; compete with foreign countries like China, not based on low-cost labor. Lord knows we don’t want to compete based on low-cost labor—compete based on abundant energy resources we have here. And so everyone here agrees we want to protect our air and water, but we shouldn’t be handing over regulation to zealots.”
I’d love to talk to Hillary Clinton and any other presidential hopefuls, too. All of the candidates have open invitations to discuss their energy policies with Electric Light & Power.