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Alabama Power closes coal-fired plant, cites Obama-era regulations

The Alabama Public Service Commission blamed Obama-era regulations and emissions mandates for the closing of a historic coal-fired power plant in Walker County on Wednesday.

“In 2008, candidate Obama declared war on coal and promised to bankrupt anyone who built a coal-fired electricity plant,” the PSC said. “President Obama immediately went to work signing one after another punitive, burdensome federal mandates on the coal industry. Now, his promise has come to fruition at Plant Gorgas in Parish, Alabama.”

The PSC said the “astronomical rising cost to comply with Obama era mandates,” has left Alabama Power with no choice but to close Plant Gorgas.

“The company has taken every possible step to keep the plant up and running, but the war on coal finally took its toll,” said Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. “Obama said he wanted to make it too expensive to run coal-fired plants, and he did. I commend President (Donald) Trump for rolling back as many of the Obama mandates as he could. The problem for us here in Alabama was that Obama placed the biggest bullseye on us, and Trump’s valiant effort at finally implementing common sense came along a little too late.”

“I serve the state of Alabama as the chairman of the Clean Coal Committee for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners,” said Jeremey Oden, a commissioner. “One of my duties across the country is to make sure these plants continue to serve their mission in economical ways. With the mandated environmental retrofit required to continue to produce energy at Gorgas with coal, it is no longer feasible. I have spent years working at the national level trying to save these plants, and it saddens me deeply to see this happen in our state.”

“Obama’s negligence and disregard for Alabama families and their jobs is one of the many destructive outcomes of his presidency,” said Chris “Chip” Beeker, a commissioner. “The liberals who helped drive Obama’s agenda continue to put Alabama’s economy at risk. Our task moving forward is to keep the ones affected by this and their families in our hearts and in our prayers. We will continue to fight for our state to achieve the most reliable and affordable energy.”

The commission said it will continue to support and advocate for the coal miners of Alabama who, for generations, have supported their families and our state’s economy with their self-sacrifice, hard work and dedication.

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Plant Gorgas is a coal-fired plant with three units remaining in Parrish. It has provided energy to Alabama and created jobs for more than 100 years.

“Today, we are sad to announce that the extreme Obama-era federal regulations affecting the use of coal as a source of electric generation have now forced the closure of Plant Gorgas, which has been a mainstay in Alabama Power’s energy infrastructure,” the commissioners said in a joint statement. “As a commission, we urge Alabama Power to work with state and local officials along with all involved in coal production to minimize the impact of this closure on the communities and on the numerous families affected.”

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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