FRANKFORT — Coal miners across Kentucky will receive an official state thank you next week as the Commonwealth celebrates its second annual Coal Miners Appreciation Week.
The event is held during the third week each August. It was established by the 2011 Kentucky General Assembly with the passage of House Bill 269, sponsored by State Rep. Rick Nelson of Bell County.
Nelson, an educator who is the son of a coal miner, said the annual event encourages coal mining businesses and all Kentuckians to thank coal miners for producing enough fuel to power more than half of the electricity used in the U.S.
“Our miners are the reason why energy is still affordable for many consumers in the U.S.,” said Nelson. “They are the reason why most of us—and nearly every person in Kentucky—can turn on a lamp, power on a computer or watch TV at an affordable rate. And we need to thank them for that.”
Over 90 percent of the electricity produced in Kentucky is generated by coal, according to the Institute for Energy Research, which credits coal-fired electricity for keeping Kentucky’s electricity affordable at around 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
Recent data from the federal Energy Information Administration shows that Kentucky has the third lowest average retail electricity costs in the nation.
Coal is also a major employer in Kentucky, employing 23,340 people directly and indirectly providing three additional jobs for every miner employed in an average year, based on state data from 2009. The average weekly wage for coal miners in Kentucky was $1,214 in 2009, according to the data.
Coal Miners Appreciation Week starts this Sunday, August 12.