U.S. electricity grid reliable enough, does not need further propping up – industry groups

Electricity producers across the energy spectrum, have come together and have stated to the Trump Administration that it should drop its proposal of propping up ageing coal power plants.

In a surprising development, industries that rarely see eye to tight, ranging from gas drillers to renewable energy producers, have urged a federal agency to dump a government directive to prop up ageing nuclear and coal plants, saying the electricity grid was already reliable.

A group of twenty organizations including the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Independent Petroleum Association of America have submitted their comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), on the proposed regulation introduced late last month by U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

Perry’s proposal seeks to reward certain coal and nuclear power plants that store 90 days of fuel on site for contributing to the reliability of the power grid. Perry wants FERC to see the rule become law before the onset of winter.

Both, the Independent Petroleum Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association have said Perry’s request “fails to provide substantial evidence” for its claim that competitive markets do not already value fuel security.

Both groups have said, the proposed rule would “prop up uneconomic generation that is unable to compete … and that is not otherwise needed for reliability”.

The three commissioners of FERC have hinted that they may not pass the rule, or that it could be passed if it was suitably changed, since the rule as it is is likely to damage the competitiveness of U.S. companies in the domestic energy markets.

Coal companies, including Murray Energy, have said in comments to FERC that they are “threatened with bankruptcy and significant economic harm” if plants and other operations are forced to shut by “unreasonable and unsupportable market pricing mechanisms.”

Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, has urged the Trump administration to kill many environmental rules that affect coal producers.

As per the Maria Korsnick, CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group, the failure of the energy market to value nuclear power’s contribution to the electricity mix has led many nuclear reactors to an early retirement.

Unlike coal, which is a dirty fuel in climate change terms, nuclear reactors generate electricity almost free of emissions and have not been linked to climate change.

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