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W.Va. alternative energy bill headed for repeal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Lawmakers in both houses began work Thursday on what is expected to be the first bill passed by the new, Republican-controlled West Virginia Legislature: legislation to repeal a 2009 law that would require power companies in the state to use fuels other than coal for a portion of their electricity production a decade from now.

The Alternative Energy Portfolio Act, passed by lawmakers and signed by then-Gov. Joe Manchin, requires power plants to reach thresholds for using alternative fuels, ultimately to account for 25 percent of electricity generated by 2025.

At the time it passed, lobbyists for coal and electric utilities signed onto the bill, which was criticized by environmentalists for what they considered overly broad definitions for alternative fuels, including various types of coal technologies.

On Thursday, West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney said much has changed since the coal industry backed the legislation in 2009.

“Today’s a different world than when this thing passed,” Raney said, citing what he called an “onslaught” of federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations and lawsuit settlements restricting power plant emissions. Raney also said he believes free market forces should prevail.

“The Legislature ought not to be dictating what fuel is used to produce electricity…

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