DOE proposes plan to support coal, nuclear plants

October 4, 2017

A proposed plan that would incentivize the U.S. coal and nuclear sectors is facing opposition from the main U.S. oil and gas lobbying group which joined forces with 10 other energy industry groups to oppose the plan.

Reuters reported that U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry issued a call to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a rule within 60 days to give many coal and nuclear plants incentives for providing reliable electricity to the nation’s grid.

The Trump administration has pushed a policy of “energy dominance” for energy companies to produce as much fossil fuel as possible to supply domestic markets and allies abroad. But the opposition to Perry’s call by the 11 groups that include lobbyists for natural gas, solar and wind power and power consumers is an indication the Trump policy could put industries in direct competition with one another.

The National Mining Association (NMA) issued a response supporting the plan.

“Secretary Perry’s action today is a long-overdue and necessary step to address the vulnerability of America’s energy grid,” said Hal Quinn, NMA president and chief executive officer. “Invoking his authority under the Energy Organization Act, the Secretary has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to take decisive steps to arrest the premature retirement of power plants capable of providing American consumers with reliable and affordable electricity. The past administration’s regulatory policies have left our once resilient energy grid increasingly vulnerable to events that can threaten the delivery of reliable and cost-effective electricity to light our homes and run our nation’s factories.

“By acting on the Secretary’s proposal, FERC can appropriately value the importance of reliable and resilient fuels that ensure baseload power, the mainstay of our nation’s grid, is available at all times,” Quinn said. “We urge FERC to act swiftly on this important proposal.

The American Petroleum Institute, the Natural Gas Supply Association, the American Wind Energy Association and eight other industry groups filed a motion at the FERC opposing Perry’s request.

The motion says the deadlines in Perry’s request for a so-called interim final rule are “wholly unreasonable and insufficient” and should be extended should FERC “decide to proceed with a rulemaking of this type at all.” It calls for a 90-day comment period followed by a conference for stakeholders to understand Perry’s proposal and provide input.

Both nuclear and coal power plants have suffered a rash of permanent shutdowns in the face of competition from cheap, plentiful natural gas and stagnant electricity demand. Perry’s plan would benefit some coal and nuclear plants that have 90 days of fuel on site.

Perry’s plan said that coal and nuclear power have fared well in recent storms and that they should be rewarded for reliability. The Trump administration has criticized wind and solar power, both expanding rapidly, as being too dependent on weather.



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