Adams County Commissioner Ty Pell was a guest on “The Real Story” hosted by the BBC World News Service last week. The topic of the radio interview was climate reform, in advance of a summit regarding climate change that will be attended by world leaders later this year. President Joe Biden is expected to attend the conference.
The main topic of discussion was the devastating effects of losing the two power plants in Adams County in 2018. Pell told BBC host Ritula Shah that the Adams County community was blindsided by the sudden closure. “We were blindsided,” Pell told BBC. “They had spent like $400 million upgrading the plants and we were under the impression that they had another ten years of life expectancy,” said Pell.
Shah asked Pell if the people of Adams County had hope that the plants would survive after President Trump was elected, citing this promise of keeping coal jobs and working to bring them back. “I thought we had a chance,” said Pell. “But at the end of the day, it was a business decision made by the companies that it wasn’t profitable enough to keep them open. So, what the government did or didn’t do, I don’t know if the minds could have been changed by the people making those decisions.”
During the interview, Shah also asked Pell about the tax revenue lost by local entities when the facilities closed. “So, just describe what it meant in terms of the tax take, you’re a relatively small county, two very big businesses closed down, what did that mean for the amount of money you could raise in tax?” Pell responded, “Well, the biggest issue – we lost nearly $500 million in value,” said Pell. “That affects the levies more than anything. At one point those plants were valued at $500 million and now they are valued at basically land price, $1,500 per acre, so the amount of taxes that we collected goes down,” said Pell.
Shah also discussed climate change during the interview and how many people are advocating for the need to move away from coal and move to renewable energy. “You in a sense, in Adams County have lived through a transition like that, what would you say to people who are advocating this, what is your message to them,” Shah asked Pell. “Well, my message to them was, through the years that the power plants were opened and running, The Sierra Club was here and other organizations like that, beating the doors down, interviewing and stuff like that…well, since they’ve closed, its crickets from all of them.” Pell continued, “they want these things shut down, but leave and don’t understand the devastation of the local economies.”
The full interview can be heard from the BBC World Service at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct1hs8