Energy Foundation CEO and Co-founder Eric Heitz issued the following statement in response to a letter Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama sent to the Department of Energy (DOE) on December 13, requesting that the agency determine if certain organizations that receive financial support from the foundation also received funding from DOE. The senator said his request was based on allegations that the organizations may have accepted federal grants that were used to wage a “stealth War on Coal” in Alabama.
“We are proud to support groups working to build a stronger, more resilient economy based on clean, affordable, and secure energy—not only in Alabama but across the United States. Transitioning to a new energy economy represents the best of America’s tradition of embracing new technology and ideas to continually renew our economy and create new jobs. Turning our backs on energy innovation and market competition would not only violate that tradition but undermine our nation’s vitality.
“The Energy Foundation has never received federal funding, and there is no ‘stealth war on coal,’ as the Alabama Coal Association has claimed. This is an open public dialog about how markets, competition, and innovation—deeply valued and trusted American traditions—can bring affordable, clean power to Alabama. Transitioning from coal to clean energy will create jobs and spur economic development as businesses hire more local residents and pump more money into local economies, including those in Alabama.
“According to a study titled Energy Efficiency in the South conducted by Duke University and Georgia Tech*, ‘increased investments in cost-effective energy efficiency would generate jobs and cut utility bills.’ These investments would reduce energy bills in the South by $41 billion, create 380,000 new jobs, and grow the region’s economy by $1.23 billion. The Energy Foundation takes pride in advancing these and other economic benefits for the South—and the entire country. It is also well documented that transitioning to cleaner forms of energy protects the health of our children today and generations to come from the proven health risks of coal-fired power plants.
“The shift to more affordable and cleaner sources of energy no doubt threatens Alabama’s coal power suppliers who benefit financially from the status quo. We are especially sensitive to the importance of retraining the hard-working men and women in this declining industry and have advocated for policies to ease the transition. But it would be counter to competitive market principles and to our national economic interest to protect and preserve outmoded technologies that are being eclipsed by cheaper, cleaner, more innovative approaches.”
*The Energy Foundation was one of several foundations that provided financial support for the study.