Appalachian Grid Operators: We Don’t Need Trump’s Reliability Plan

Several weeks ago U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) directing the agency to complete action on a “grid resiliency” pricing rule within 60 days. The proposed rule Perry proffered to FERC would put in place regulations that favor electric generating plants powered by coal and nuclear. That is, it would allow unprofitable ventures to pass along new costs, making them profitable–in the name of protecting the electric grid. The theory Perry (and by extension President Trump) subscribe to is that if the free market drives out coal and nuke plants, the electric grid would be “vulnerable” to far fewer sources to power it. If coal and nukes are all but gone, and all of sudden there’s a natural gas shortage, or prices spike for natural gas, it would endanger the electric supply in this country. On one side of the argument are those who believe the free market sometimes needs a helping hand (via regulation), and on the other those who believe the free market will sort it all out and we are not vulnerable. It’s no surprise that the coal and nuclear lobbies are celebrating Perry’s action, and the oil & gas lobby is not. The largest grid operator in the U.S. is PJM Interconnection, which covers all or parts of DE, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, NJ, NC, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, and Washington, DC. The head of PJM has weighed in on the resiliency debate. He told FERC that Perry’s plan to prop up coal and nuclear is not necessary–that PJM is just fine without it…

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