You won’t read or hear this on NPR (National Presidential Radio)

Coal supporters rally to save Big Sandy Power Plant

By: Hillary Thornton
Aug 24, 2013
LOUISA, Ky. (WYMT) Faithful coal supporters were out pledging their support for the Big Sandy Power Plant in Lawrence County. The plant is facing a proposed shut down after officials with Kentucky Power say due to federal and EPA regulations they must retire at least one unit and stop burning coal in the other by 2015.

‘Coal keeps the lights on’ is a common phrase heard in Eastern Kentucky, but it is much more than a phrase to folks at the rally.

Elizabeth Slone explains, “The people who built this plant and brought this plant here, their jobs are going to have to be relocated. Then you have the coal miners who truck this coal every day, so their jobs are going to be lost.”

Coal jobs that bring more than two million tons of coal to the plant each year.

State Representative Rocky Adkins says, “This country and Kentucky were built on low cost energy. Many people don’t know it but about 92% of our energy in the state is produced by coal, and we have the 4th most low cost energy in the nation.”

Officials issued the proposed shut down after stating that required upgrades would mean around a 30 percent rate increase for customers, but many folks say they believe it is going to cost more to close Big Sandy and transfer the power to another plant in West Virginia.

Representative Adkins says, “Our people need it and deserve it, to abandon and wave the white flag at a power plant in the heart of coal country, in my opinion is a tragedy.”

Supporters say if the plant closes, the impact could be felt throughout the area.

“The impact the Big Sandy Power Plant has on the local economy just here in Lawrence County is about a half a million dollars a year to the school district, about another half million to the local government,” says Adkins.

Folks at the rally say they are pledging their support for both coal and the power plant because of the long term effects they believe it will have on their hometown and also on hometowns throughout the country.

Julie Wilson, attended the rally on behalf of ‘Friends of Coal’ and says, “Everything tangible is produced by a source of energy, and if 50% and over of America depends on coal and then you take that away…where are we?”

“We are worried about the long term impact, we are trying to save our hometown…we are trying to save everyone’s hometown,” says Slone.

That is why they are standing up and supporting what they say keeps their lights on.

Officials with Kentucky Power could not be reached for comment about today’s rally.



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