October 5, 2017 Read More →

‘Tough Sell’ for U.S. Energy Secretary’s Plan to Rescue Nuclear, Coal Industries

Houston Chronicle:

Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s plan to stop more coal and nuclear plants from shutting down is already showing signs of a tough sell on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers try to come to grips with consequences for the rest of the energy sector.

So far this week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, offered a tepid reaction when she commended Perry for “taking an action that he believes is necessary” but offered no comment on the proposal itself.
Likewise, in a hearing in the House Science, Space and Technology Committee Tuesday, Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, who represents north Texas fracking interests, said any action would require “a strong, independently reviewed justification.”

“There’s some people in Texas that drill for gas that will probably disagree with” Perry’s proposal, he said.

What Perry is suggesting is that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rewrite current market regulations so power plants would be compensated not only for the electricity they sell onto the grid but also for their “reliability and resiliency.”

But the rationale of trying to save more plants from closing was brought into question this week by the consultant the Energy Department hired to run its study.

In an op-ed published Monday Alison Silverstein, a Texas consultant who formerly worked for FERC, criticized the study’s findings as incomplete and said many of those plants that had closed were “old, smaller, inefficient, and high-cost.”

“Many more coal and nuclear plants face borderline economic viability and are at risk of retirement over the next few years,” she wrote. “Before all of those plants retire, we need to understand – based on valid reliability analyses, not just the desire to protect existing assets and jobs – whether those plants play a valid reliability role.”

More: Perry’s coal, nuclear plan isn’t energizing lawmakers

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