Coal / Energy

Cost of Coal: Electric bills skyrocket in Appalachia as region’s economy collapses

As natural gas and renewables get cheaper elsewhere, residents in Appalachia are stuck paying for coal-fired power plants that no longer make economic sense

Mayking Fire Chief Tony Fugate (left) and the volunteer fire department’s treasurer, Buddy Sexton, speak to residents about their station’s rising electricity costs during an Aug. 2 public meeting. Credit: James Bruggers/InsideClimate News

WHITESBURG, Kentucky — Buddy Sexton opened a community meeting about the financial troubles of local volunteer fire departments with his head bowed: “Let people understand what a need we have in this county, in the mighty name of Jesus, we pray.”

Sexton then delivered some grim news to the gathering of about two dozen eastern Kentucky residents sitting in folding chairs set up in the engine bays of the Mayking Fire Department.

Just like the townspeople, his tiny department is facing crushing electric bills. They have gone up by several hundred dollars a month during the winter. That’s a lot in a local budget that is already strained as revenues from taxes on mining go steadily down.

As coal mining has collapsed across Appalachia, residents in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia have been socked with a double whammy—crippling electric bills to go along with a declining economy.”

— James Bruggers, Inside Climate News

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