In line with President Donald Trump’s move against environmental protections, Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed subsidizing coal and nuclear power plants. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unanimously rejected the plan Perry announced on September 29, 2017.
Their decision supports wind, solar, gas, and other clean power suppliers that compete with coal and nuclear energy providers. Environmentalists, conservation activists, grid experts and other entities encouraging the rejection are sure to be pleased with today’s FERC announcement.
Perry’s Proposal Details
All of the subsidies Perry wanted would make it difficult for clean energy producers to compete. He announced the Energy Department would guarantee a loan to complete two nuclear reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating plant, in Waynesboro, Georgia, to the tune of $3.7 billion. This is in addition to $8.3 billion the utility companies already secured from the Energy Department.
Additionally, Perry planned to revise how producers will be compensated for their product. His plan would require “grid operators to pay power producers for their costs plus a reasonable profit if the power plant at issue has at least 90 days of fuel on-site,” according to The Hill. This is not something clean energy providers could achieve. The reimbursement plan would benefit only nuclear and coal electricity companies.
Supporters of nuclear and coal plants think this idea is sound because these plants are closing due to lower priced sources and the Energy Department regulations. This, they contend, makes the existing power grids unstable.
FERC Findings Support Denial
Even though four of the five commission members were appointed by President Trump, they denied approval of the Secretary’s requests. Essentially, they stated Perry and the proposal’s supporters did not demonstrate that “current electricity markets are not just or reasonable.”
Upon investigating the stability of the energy grid, the FERC found no cause for concern. They did, however, start an inquiry asking “electric grid operators what they are doing, if anything, to ensure that their grids remain resilient,” according to The Hill.
When evaluating the suggested changes by Perry, Energy Innovation forecast sharp increases in electrical costs. They estimate this could be as high as $11.8 billion.
Opinions From Both Sides
Others against the Secretary’s proposal stated it was a political move to forward Trump’s agenda. Moreover, using the rouse of the unstable electrical supply system is a standard ploy of the Republican party, in which they play on the fears of American voters.
Whereas, Perry contends his announcement did exactly what he intended. He believes he began a national conversation about the fact that America’s energy grids lack instability. The Secretary swears coal, and nuclear electricity are the only way to achieve grid resiliency.
By Cathy Milne
The Hill: Regulators kill Perry’s proposal to prop up coal, nuclear power plants
The Washington Post: Rick Perry just proposed sweeping new steps to help struggling coal and nuclear plants
Energy Department: Secretary Perry Announces Conditional Commitment to Support Continued Construction of Vogtle Advanced Nuclear Energy Project
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License