October 26, 2018 Read More →

DOE comments show little support for FirstEnergy bailout request

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

Most stakeholders weighing in on FirstEnergy Solutions Corp.’s plea in March for federal intervention to support its financially struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants in the PJM Interconnection were opposed to the request, according to documents obtained from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Out of 152 responses on the request the DOE received through May 24, the vast majority urged the department not to grant FirstEnergy Solutions’, or FES’s, application, according to documents S&P Global Market Intelligence received through a Freedom of Information Act request. The DOE has yet to announce a decision on the company’s petition or other agency efforts to prop up vulnerable coal and nuclear units.

The DOE did not open a formal comment period on the request but said in April that it would accept stakeholder input on the agency’s ability to declare an emergency under FPA 202(c), including in response to the FES application. The DOE has invoked its 202(c) authority sparingly in the past, mostly in response to temporary energy shortfalls following hurricanes and other emergency events.

As a result, several gas and power industry groups said the statute should not be used to provide the market relief FES sought in its 202(c) application. More fundamentally, most stakeholders backed PJM’s assertion that no grid emergency existed in the region to justify subsidizing FES’s at-risk plants.

“The proposed actions would tilt the table and not only undermine, but potentially destroy, new private competitive investment, and perhaps more importantly, substantially add to the cost of power to consumers in the region,” independent power producer Calpine Corp. said in comments to the DOE.

More ($): DOE heard mostly criticism of FirstEnergy Solutions’ coal, nuclear relief plan

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