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O’Halleran Reintroduces Legislation to Aid Coal Transition Communities

O’Halleran Reintroduces Legislation to Aid Coal Transition Communities
March 30
09:36 2021

O’Halleran Reintroduces Legislation to Aid Coal Transition Communities

Cong Tom O’Halleran

PAGE – On Friday, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced the National Energy Workforce and Providing Recovery Opportunities to Manage the Industry’s Shifting Economics (NEW PROMISE) Act, legislation that would provide economic development resources to communities affected by the closure of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS)—and those like it across the United States—establish job and skills training programs for displaced employees, and invest in cities, towns, and tribal areas that have suffered economic downturn as a result of a closing coal-generation plant.

The legislation is an updated version of O’Halleran’s 116th Congress PROMISE Act.

“NGS was a powerhouse for northern Arizona and the many rural and tribal families who relied on the good-paying jobs it provided,” said O’Halleran. “With the continued challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism has plummeted, especially from the international visitors the Page community was so used to welcoming. In introducing my updated NEW PROMISE Act, I am taking into account the concerns of tribal leadership, county, local, and statewide stakeholders to provide an all-of-the-above recovery approach for the community of Page, and so many communities like it across rural America, where hardworking folks are out of a job due to no fault of their own.”

O’Halleran’s NEW PROMISE Act will

  • Direct the Secretary of Labor and Director of the White House Council to establish a 10-year pilot program to provide education and training opportunities to dislocated workers from the downturn of coal-fired electric generation to enter jobs in emerging energy-related industries;
  • Establish a mitigation fund to recoup revenue losses incurred following the closure of a coal-fired generating station in an economically distressed community;
  • Create, within the White House, a Council on Energy Transitions, responsible for reporting data on coal-fired generation station closures and their effects, conducting outreach to impacted communities, and maintaining a team of grant specialists;
  • Form Regional Transition Advisory Committees comprised of local government, labor, utility, environmental, academic, and economic experts to work with distressed communities and develop targeted recovery plans;
  • Put in place a requirement for electric utilities to notify potentially impacted local governments of the projected date of seasonal operations or closure of a coal-fired generating unit or facility; and
  • Allocate
    • $50 million annually for economic development planning to distressed communities over 14 years, totaling $700 million;
    • $50 million annually for infrastructure investments in distressed communities over five years, totaling $250 million;
    • $100 million in displaced worker training support over 10 years; and
    • $250 million in support for lost revenues to impacted communities which phases down annually over 7 years for a total of $1.35 billion in support to coal communities as a whole.

For a detailed one pager on the legislation, click HERE. To view the bill text, click HERE.

BACKGROUND:

The Navajo Generating Station (NGS) was a coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. For decades, NGS provided good-paying jobs for families on Navajo and Hopi lands, and within the community of Page. The plant closed its doors at the end of 2019 following poor economic performance, competition from market penetration, and affordability of other energy sources, displacing many workers and creating an economic void for key communities across rural Arizona in its wake.

Support for O’Halleran’s NEW PROMISE Act:

Navajo Nation:

Mr. OHalleran and Mr. Nez

“The Navajo Nation thanks Congressman O’Halleran for introducing the NEW PROMISE Act to provide support and resources for economic recovery and community support due to the closure of the Navajo Generating Station. The closure impacted many Navajo families and changed the economic outlook for our communities. We look forward to working with Congress and this administration on providing a future for our Navajo Nation and our workers as we transition our economy and help our workers succeed.” – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez

Hopi Tribe:

“I want to thank Congressman O’Halleran for reintroducing the NEW PROMISE Act and making it even more robust. The NEW PROMISE Act will provide financial assistance to help the Hopi tribe and the surrounding communities to transition our economies away from the reliance on coal while averting cuts to critical services as we struggle to replace revenue.” – Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma of the Hopi Tribe 

City of Page:

“The passage of your NEW PROMISE Act would give the City of Page an opportunity to transition to a new economy. One that includes better opportunity for our residents, a chance for retraining for those affected by the closure, potential grants to improve our quality of life, help with Economic Development Plans, and programs to help with Workforce Innovation. The Mayor and City Council do want to thank you personally for your commitment and concern that you have shown the residents of Page.”

Coconino County:

“The NEW PROMISE Act is a critical piece of legislation to help local economies and communities’ transition as coal-fired power plants close. The closure of the Navajo Generating Station, the nation’s only federally-chartered coal plant, has devasted the economy and family lives of our local region. The NEW PROMISE Act provides funding and resources, along with a federal focus on helping our area reach a new economy that can provide sustaining and dependable jobs. Thank you to Rep. Tom O’Halleran for his leadership to author this bill and for listening to the needs of northern Arizona.” – Supervisor Lena Fowler, Coconino County, Arizona

Apache County:

“Apache County has been happy to work with Congressman O’Halleran and his staff in developing the NEW PROMISE Act.  As you know, Apache County anticipates a loss of nearly 200 high paying jobs as well as $4.5 million in annual lost revenue by 2032. These reductions will impact general County services, libraries, fire and emergency services, and school districts will see an annual loss of $550,000.  The NEW PROMISE Act gives the County an opportunity to get ahead these impacts by developing workforce initiatives, industry projects, and alternatives in electricity generation.  The County has partnered with towns and municipalities and will be seeking an alternative energy pilot project once the NEW PROMISE Act funds become available. We appreciate Rep. O’Halleran’s willingness to protect rural communities facing this economic downturn.”

Salt River Project (SRP):

“SRP commends Rep. O’Halleran and his staff for their thought leadership and stakeholder outreach in developing the NEW PROMISE Act.  The focus on helping communities impacted by coal plant and mine closures is an essential piece to moving the country toward clean energy. SRP applauds the support in helping assist impacted communities develop Economic Development Transition Plans that will assist the communities prepare to diversify their local economies.  SRP supports the establishment of the “Covered Electric Generating Station Cessation Fund” to supplement the financial revenue losses incurred by the impacted communities as well as increasing grant opportunities by reauthorizing the Rural Remote Communities Electrifications Grants program will provide additional much needed support to the impacted communities.”

Arizona Public Service (APS):

“A holistic approach to a clean energy future takes more than the efforts of local stakeholders; it takes national leaders who are willing to support communities across the nation as they transition away from coal-fired economies. APS has already taken steps on its own initiative and with the support of our key stakeholders to propose an ambitious coal community transition support proposal, which is valued at well over $145 million over the next 17 years. That is why we applaud Congressman Tom O’Halleran’s new legislation which offers the opportunity for more regional partners to join us in helping these communities prepare for the future. We appreciate this national commitment to a clean energy transition as it ensures that no coal community is left behind.”

Tucson Electric Power (TEP):

“We appreciate and share Rep. O’Halleran’s commitment to supporting a successful transition for communities affected by the closure of coal-fired power plants. The communities around Arizona’s coal-fired power plants have contributed significantly to the availability of safe, reliable and affordable energy across Arizona, fueling our state’s economic growth. We can’t allow them to be left behind as we transition to a new generation of energy resources.”– Susan M. Gray, President and CEO of Tucson Electric Power (TEP) and its parent company, UNS Energy. TEP plans to retire its two units at the coal-fired Springerville Generating Station in 2027 and 2032.

 

Featured Photo: March 29, 2021

L – R:  US Congressman Tom O’Halleran, Hopi Tribe Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma, Page Mayor Bill Diak and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez

 

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