The Trump Administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants would amount to a flawed bailout, according to a broad, diverse, coalition of energy associations. The organizations, which include the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), grid operators and even American Petroleum Institute.
“While the undersigned support the goals of a reliable and resilient grid, adoption of ill-considered discriminatory payments contemplated in the DOE NOPR is not supportable—or even appropriate—from a legal or policy perspective,” the broad coalition of energy groups said in their filing.
The organizations submitted the comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is expected to make its ruling on “grid resiliency pricing” by Dec. 11. The organizations charge that the proposed subsidies for coal and nuclear power plants, allowing them to compete in energy markets, are needed or legally valid.
Utilities continue to move from coal and nuclear power plants, sometimes purchasing and/or closing the power plants years ahead of schedule. The utilities are instead turning to other, reliable, lower-cost, and cleaner energy sources like wind, solar and natural gas. Such changes are impacting the mining industries that fuel coal and nuclear plants.
“The proposed rule is a solution in search of a problem,” said Christopher Mansour, SEIA’s vice president of federal affairs. “Solar is an affordable, reliable, nearly limitless source of fuel. Healthy competition should always promote the best, most innovative solutions. It’s time to embrace 21st century technologies, like solar, and all the advantages they offer to our nation’s grid.”
The controversial proposal follows Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s call for a review of electric markets earlier this year. That review was expected to find that renewable energy sources like wind and solar were not reliable or cost-effective energy sources for the US’s energy grid and were responsible for the demise of coal and nuclear.
The review was expected to reaffirm the need from more coal and nuclear to supply baseload power, which the Trump administration has supported. However, the report found that wind and solar power were not causing downfall of coal and nuclear.
Yet, the administration is still attempting to prop up uncompetitive electric generation sources with the proposed rule. The filers state that the DOE's proposed rule offers no new information to support the idea that an emergency exists requiring the subsidies.
In their filing in opposition the energy associations stated: “Of the hundreds of comments filed in response to the DOE NOPR, only a handful purported to provide substantive evidence in support of the proposal. In contrast, an overwhelming majority of initial comments agree that the DOE NOPR fails to substantiate its assertions of an immediate reliability or resiliency need related to the retirement of merchant coal-fired and nuclear generation.”Tweet