Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's campaign liked my post about Republican candidate John Raese's May 21 press conference and sent it out to media across the state as an "In Case You Missed It" e-mail.
The campaign included a few thoughts of its own, including the claim that Manchin stopped cap and trade in the Senate on his first day in office.
And it attached a "fact check" document that, in part, outlines Manchin's understanding of the 2009 bill that established West Virginia's Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The standard mandates that the state's electric utilities get 25 percent of their electricity from alternative or renewable energy sources by 2025, with interim targets in 2015 and 2020.
The Manchin campaign wrote on that topic, responding to Raese's press conference:
Raese's claim that Manchin passed a law eliminating coal usage is simply not true. Both the West Virginia Coal Association and Chamber of Commerce support West Virginia's measure. In 2009, Governor Manchin signed the Alternative and Renewable Energy Act that encourages the coal industry to continue to lead our nation toward energy independence. The legislation does nothing to inhibit the use of coal in West Virginia's power plants because it classifies coal as an alternative energy source, allowing the goals of the Act to be accomplished using only coal and natural gas.
That is interesting.
It became clear, we reported late last year as the last of the utilities' compliance plans were under review by the Public Service Commission, that the large utilities would not need to make any changes to meet the standard of 25 percent of electricity from "alternative and renewable" sources by 2025. As "alternative and renewable" were defined in the act, AEP, for example, accumulates credits for generation from supercritical (high-temperature) coal-fired generation at Amos and Mountaineer and natural gas-fired generation at its new Dresden plant in Ohio, along with wind and hydropower generation and energy efficiency programs.
The act allows only 10 percent of compliance generation to come from natural gas and 10 percent from supercritical coal. AEP is getting some of its power from the wind and hydropower that we conventionally think of as alternative and renewable. But a utility could, theoretically, get the remaining 80 percent of its compliance generation from coalbed methane, waste coal and liquid fuels made from coal.
The campaign also boasts in its fact check document that the state's major utilities are in compliance with the standard 13 years ahead of schedule, citing the State Journal story referenced above. The lack of ambition that shows on the part of the act's creators appears as a point of pride.
The Manchin campaign states outright now what some suspected was the intention at the time the act was passed.