KY Coal Assoc. President Speaks at PIP Breakfast
By Tim Brockwell
PADUCAH, KY - Coal in Kentucky was the topic of discussion at Thursday's Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce Power in Partnership Breakfast.
Featured speaker Bill Bissett, President of the Kentucky Coal Association, spoke in front of a near-capacity crowd in the Paducah Expo Center's Ohio Room on the current state of the Kentucky Coal Industry, the future of Kentucky coal, and how it impacts Paducah and the state's economy.
Bissett said Western Kentucky has surpassed the eastern part of the state in coal production.
"Western Kentucky now mines more coal than Eastern Kentucky," Bissett said. "I'm from Appalachia originally, and I think when we think coal as Kentuckians, we think Eastern Kentucky. You have to understand, the growth market right now for my industry is in the west."
Bissett also spoke at length about the economic benefits of using a locally obtained source for electricity generation. He said using coal to produce electricity in Kentucky is beneficial because it lowers the price of energy in the commonwealth.
"We use a domestic to Kentucky resource to produce the vast majority of our electricity here," Bissett said. "That's an economic benefit to the commonwealth. We use something that we can mine here, use here and create electricity, and it benefits us through low cost electricity."
Bissett stressed the importance of coal not only as an energy source in Kentucky, but talked about how it is being utilized at an increasingly higher rate worldwide. He said the emerging Indian and Chinese economies will become increasingly reliant upon coal imports as demand rises. Bissett said he thinks Kentucky coal can answer that growing need.
"Their world is changing," Bissett said. "How are they going to build their electricity infrastructure so they can build more things? The same way this country did, through coal." Bissett said he thinks along with other sources, Kentucky coal can help answer that need for additional energy. He said he thinks the growing global demand and potential coal exports could mean a better economy for the commonwealth.
Although the coal industry has grown in Western Kentucky, Bissett said there has been an effort in Washington by the Obama administration to move away from coal as a fuel source.
"We have a president in the White House who is not supportive of our industry," Bissett said. "Coal was a major issue in the presidential race. I think you heard him talk about supporting our industry, but there is still tremendous pressure from this administration to move this country away from coal usage and production."
While Bissett acknowledged that coal will not be the only piece in the increasingly complex power puzzle, he said the fuel will be necessary to satisfy increasing future energy demand if it grows at its projected pace.
"Other sources will be used, but overwhelmingly coal is going to be the solution," Bissett said. "The question we often ask, especially to the federal government, is how we will meet that increasing demand. It's not an electricity request
, it's a demand
. Our friends in the utilities know that aspect of it very well."