Lewandowski slams 'deep state' regulators for rejecting Perry coal plan

11 January, 2018, 09:14 | Author: Kim Reid
  • NRDC's 5th annual energy report October 2017  
             NRDC

Calling it "a major blow to the Trump administration's efforts to revive America's declining coal industry", The New York Times article notes that Energy Secretary Rick Perry wanted to subsidize failing coal and nuclear plants while ignoring natural gas manufacturers. Perry spoke of "fair compensation" to stop the "imminent loss" of power generation capacity with on-site fuel supplies, mainly coal and nuclear power plants, and of "severe consequences" for the grid coming from additional shut-downs.

The commissioners thanked Perry for "having reinforced grid resilience as an important issue" and instead directed regional grid operators - such as ISO New England - to submit information so FERC can "examine holistically the resilience of the bulk power system".

Climate and free market advocates opposed the plan.

It's no surprise it was resoundingly rejected by even the industry-friendly commission, just as it's no surprise that Secretary Perry continues to demonstrate he has no idea what he's doing overseeing our nation's energy infrastructure.

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"What is not debatable is that a diverse fuel supply, especially with onsite fuel capability, plays an essential role in providing Americans with reliable, resilient and affordable electricity, particularly in times of weather-related stress like we are seeing now", Perry said. "Additionally, power users in SC were asked to voluntarily cut back on their electricity usage because of critical margins in the electric power grid". As one example, he noted last week's forced shutdown of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in MA due to a power line that failed during extreme cold weather.

"Rick Perry's scheme to prop up aging nuclear and dirty coal plants was never about making sure the lights and heat stayed on", said John Moore, an energy policy expert for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The commission said it would begin a new process to study whether fewer nuclear and coal plants pose risks to "grid resilience" which it defined as "the ability to withstand and reduce the magnitude and/or duration of disruptive events". Tech giant Apple weighed in Monday against the proposal, saying it would inhibit innovation and competition and interfere with plans to increase use of "clean energy" such as wind and solar power.

Trump committed to the measure in private conversations last summer with top coal executives.

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"I fear that we will now immediately observe the announcement of further decommissioning of nuclear and coal-fired electricity generation that will further exacerbate this critical situation", Mr. Murray added. CEO Robert Murray warned Trump that failing to act would cause thousands of coal miners to be laid off and threatened the viability of his largest customer, Ohio-based electricity company FirstEnergy Solutions.

Murray dismissed the research, claiming that Rhodium Group is "certainly biased" and "shills for the renewable energy industry".

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a United Nations special envoy on climate change, said the FERC decision was a "victory for consumers, the free market and clean air". He said the FERC order to seek more information about resilience was "only the first step" rather than a final one.

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