The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday unanimously rejected a proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would have propped up nuclear and coal power struggling in competitive electricity markets.
The independent five-member commission includes four people appointed by President Trump, three of them Republicans. Its decision is binding.
– The Washington Post, 08 January 2018
Paul Bledsoe, a former Energy Department consultant under President Obama, said, “This outright rejection of subsidies for coal and nuclear shows that Commissioners of both parties have little interest in manipulating electricity markets in favor of any fuel source,”
As with most things, there is a caveat. The commission said that it shared Perry’s stated goal of strengthening the “resilience” of the electricity grid, and as such directed regional transmission operators to provide information to help the commission examine the matter “holistically.” Holistically, apparently meaning outside mainstream science? Perry’s proposal favored power plants being able to store 90 days fuel supply on site in case of emergency, unlike renewable energy or natural gas plants.
John Moore, director of the Sustainable FERC Project Coalition, said, “The law and common sense prevailed over special interests today. The FERC correctly found that the Department of Energy’s proposal violated the basic requirements of the Federal Power Act. Secretary Perry’s plan would have subsidized coal and nuclear plants with a 90-day fuel supply yet Perry never explained why those plants were inherently more reliable or resilient.”
Although FERC could issue a new order after submissions by regional grid operators, the language in the current order suggested it would stand by the trend toward free competitive electricity markets. For once, common sense protection of the environment won the day. Let us hope this is only the first of many such moments.