FERC Rejects Trump DOE Plan to Favor Coal & Nukes re Electric Grid

On September 29, 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”–ostensibly within 60 days. The proposed rule Perry proffered, sometimes referred to as the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR), 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. The incoming/new chairman of FERC, Kevin McIntyre, asked for an extension so he and another new FERC member could take a little time to do a proper review (see Kevin McIntyre Sworn in as 5th FERC Commissioner, New Chairman). The review is done and yesterday all five FERC commissioners voted unanimously to reject Perry’s Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule. However, as a consolation prize, FERC launched an effort to formally canvas electric grid operators, compelling them to respond with details of their plans for grid resiliency. It’s a small bone to coal and nuclear, but a bone nonetheless…

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