Good news -- the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has conclusively rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry's proposal for subsidizing coal and nuclear energy.
Perry based his proposal on the idea that alternative energy sources are unreliable, but the commission disagreed.
In its decision, the commission largely sided with the critics, noting that grid operators have so far proven adept at keeping the lights on even as natural gas, wind and solar have crowded out baseload coal and nuclear plants, which were once favored by utilities because they can reliably generate power at all hours of the day.
“There is no evidence in the record to suggest that temporarily delaying the retirement of uncompetitive coal and nuclear generators would meaningfully improve the resilience of the grid,” wrote Commissioner Richard Glick, concurring with the agency’s decision to reject the proposal. “Rather, the record demonstrates that, if a threat to grid resilience exists, the threat lies mostly with the transmission and distribution systems, where virtually all significant disruptions occur.”
This is good news for more than one reason.
Perry's proposal was not only bad for the environment, it would have cost every single person reading this more money.
His proposal would have required regional electricity markets to raise electricity prices for everyone just to hand that money over to failing power plants to prevent them from closing. That means you would have personally paid more for your electricity every month just to subsidize an ancient coal-fired power plant near you.
Perry's proposal was a direct rejection of the free market forces that have made natural gas and other sources of energy successful. That appears to be the primary reason why the commission rejected the idea even though four of the five members of the commission were appointed by Trump.
“There is clearly a broad consensus among commissioners of both parties that the carefully constructed competitive power markets that FERC has created over the last 30 years are keeping consumer prices low,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate change adviser. “The notion of subsidizing coal and nuclear and thereby raising consumer prices is anathema to Trump appointees and Democrats alike.”