July 13, 2018 Read More →

NextEra’s Kelliher takes issue with Trump coal bailout

Washington Examiner:

Joseph Kelliher, executive vice president of the large U.S. utility NextEra Energy, said Thursday that strengthening the U.S. pipeline system is the key to making the power grid more resilient, and in doing so took a shot at the Trump administration’s effort to subsidize coal and nuclear plants.

The Trump administration argues fuel storage is most important to making the grid better able to respond quickly after major weather events and cyberattacks, but Kelliher said he disagrees. “Strengthening the energy infrastructure is the real resilience issue,” said Kelliher, who is a former Republican chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “The resilience associated with on-site fuel is insignificant by comparison.”

There is a shortage of pipelines in the Permian Basin, the country’s most prolific area for shale gas, constraining the ability to get gas to market. Many Northeast states, such as New York, meanwhile, are increasingly using a provision under the Clean Water Act to deny water permits, blocking interstate pipeline projects going through their states.

“There remain limits on where and how quickly we can build pipelines,” said James Hoecker, executive director of WIRES, a trade group, in testimony before the Senate committee. Hoecker is also a former FERC chairman.

Hoecker agreed that building more pipelines to transport gas is necessary because “we see natural gas becoming more important, and other forms of fossil fuel less important to the generation mix.”

Those comments come as the Trump administration is trying to argue that pipelines are vulnerable to cyberattacks, meaning the U.S. should be shoring up failing coal and nuclear plants to compensate for that.

More: U.S. utility goes against Trump, says pipelines, not coal bailout, are key to strong power grid

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