FERC rejects Perry electricity grid proposal

11 January, 2018, 09:17 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • The energy reliability crisis that wasn’t

Mr. Robert E. Murray, the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Murray Energy stated that "This is a bureaucratic cop-out, whereby these FERC Commissioners have totally avoided making a decision regarding the very urgent situation relative to the lack of reliability, resiliency, and security in our electric power grids in our Country".

It rejected a Trump administration plan, advanced by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to bring back coal by forcing consumers - you and me - to pay higher rates for electricity.

Perry's proposal was made in the name of electric grid resilience.

"The goals of this proceeding are to develop a common understanding among the Commission, industry and others of what resilience of the bulk power system means and requires; to understand how each regional transmission organization and independent system operator assesses resilience in its geographic footprint; and to use this information to evaluate whether additional Commission action regarding resilience is appropriate".

Today's decision by FERC was the right one, but FERC needs to do a lot more to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and safeguard our climate before they earn our applause. "It is not a role that the Federal Power Act provides to the Commission". To the extent DOE is concerned with reliability, the past few days - during which more than 700 megawatts of nuclear energy were lost due to a downed power line - show we need to take a closer look at improving transmission and distribution, not propping up uneconomic generation.

The independent five-member commission includes four people appointed by President Trump, three of them Republicans. In August, Politico reported that Lewandowski had pushed Trump to issue emergency federal assistance for the coal industry, a move that the Department of Energy eventually declined to take.

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The Commission said that while it had not used the term "resilience", it had pursued policies that would "ensure the uninterrupted supply of electricity in the face of fuel disruptions or extreme weather threats".

Although the 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. "Secretary Perry's plan would have subsidised coal and nuclear plants with a 90-day fuel supply yet Perry never explained why those plants were inherently more reliable or resilient". Once that documentation is processed, the panel will decide whether it'll implement new measures. The record, however, does not demonstrate that such an outcome would be just and reasonable. But the White House eventually agreed with Perry's decision to reject the proposed two-year moratorium on closures of coal-fired power plants - an action that would have been an unprecedented federal intervention in the nation's energy markets.

The exact cost of Perry's plan is unknown, but critics say it could have resulted in subsidies to coal and nuclear plants worth billions of dollars.

Chatterjee said he would have preferred an "interim step" in response to Perry.

Three of those appointees are Republicans, including the commission's new Chairman, Kevin McIntyre, who worked for nearly 30 years as an attorney for the energy industry.

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