Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Alan Walker is still bullish on the future of coal, but he’s bearish on state funding for renewable energy. That’s the gist of an interview the onetime coal executive gave the Pittsburgh Business Times:
You’re a former coal guy. Coal’s taken a lot of hits recently and many experts talk about retiring coal plants in the state and eliminating it from the fuel mix in the future. What do you think of that?
“If we do that it would be a huge mistake because it probably would mean we will use natural gas to generate electricity and if do that disproportionately we’ll go through our gas reserves faster than need to. With technology that’s out there now, you can burn coal as cleanly as natural gas.”
Should the state government has a role in promoting renewable energy?
“We’ve seen what happened at the federal level when they tried to do that, and picking winners and losers is a very dangerous thing. As a state, we can match partners – we know there’s a company here, a university there. I think the state could be a facilitator. But the state will not be a major investor in energy. That’s not our role. That moves it away from the market.”