FirstEnergy Begs For A Bailout. Again.

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

You may recall that Energy Secretary Rick Perry asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to intervene and subsidize coal and nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy. Perry claimed the subsidies were necessary to maintain stability of the grid, but the commission rejected his proposal by saying there's no evidence that stability of the grid is in question.

Shortly after the commission rejected Rick Perry's proposal, FirstEnergy received a $2.5 billion investment from GOP megadonor Paul Singer, but FirstEnergy is asking for a bailout. Again.

FirstEnergy’s FirstEnergy Solutions unit called on U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to use the emergency powers to order PJM Interconnection, the regional power grid operator, to negotiate a contract that would compensate owners of coal and nuclear plants for the benefits such as reliability and jobs those units provide.

PJM, in response, rejected the need for an emergency order. “Nothing we have seen suggests there is any kind of emergency from these units retiring,” said Vincent Duane, senior vice president at PJM, calling the problem “fundamentally a corporate issue.”

PJM and other regional operators aren't going to subsidize a power company just because they ask for it because, for PJM, that means raising rates on average customers. The money has to come from somewhere and, in this case, it would come from residents of Ohio.

Both the local operator and the federal commission have rejected these demands for a bailout, but Rick Perry could still abuse the power of his office and attempt to force the issue. If he does, I expect he would run into significant legal trouble and not just from environmental groups. The American Petroleum Institute and the pro-environment Sierra Club have both slammed FirstEnergy's request according to Reuters.

The petroleum industry is obviously acting in self interest, but they're not necessarily wrong. There's no reason local residents should pay more for electricity generated from natural gas just to subsidize coal-fired power plants that are due for retirement.

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray, who you should recognize as both a piece of shit and a liar, is continuing to lobby on FirstEnergy's behalf because FirstEnergy is his biggest client.

Murray Energy Corp, which supplies coal to FirstEnergy and has been lobbying elected officials to keep coal and nuclear plants operating, said it fully supports the request for emergency relief.

“As a result of FERC’s failure, critical power plants will close, thousands of American jobs will be lost, and the reliability, resiliency, and security of our electric power grids will be forever compromised,” Murray Energy said in a statement, referring to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s rejection of Perry’s resiliency proposal.

Bob Murray has cried wolf so many times even Republicans may not be listening anymore.

  • muselet

    This is the free market that FirstEnergy and Bob Murray noisily claim to support working as it’s supposed to do.

    I’ll be very surprised if Rick Perry doesn’t again claim the lack of additional money going to coal and nuclear power plants constitutes an emergency.


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    • Draxiar

      Yep…they only like the free market when the free market likes them. I used to think that they didn’t understand that their industry is dying- and quickly. Now I think they understand it all too well and they don’t know how to adjust to the changes and they’re staring eye to eye with their own extinction.