Energy Department Puts Together a Scheme to Supply Obsolete Coal and Nuclear Plants
Perry wants to keep aging coal and nuclear power plants operating and financially reward some plants that can keep three months of fuel on-site. This could push up electricity rates by as much as $3.8 billion a year through 2030.
“The Trump administration wants taxpayers to pay more for an earlier death,” said philanthropist Michael Bloomberg who has funded the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign to pressure coal plants to shut down.
Perry insists subsidies for our nation’s polluters are needed to help keep our power grid safe from extreme weather and terrorists. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could vote by Dec. 11 on the proposed rule.
Perry’s push to prod the commission to approve the so-called Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule appears to be written to benefit Murray Energy. The climate-change-denying CEO, Robert Murray, and Murray Energy employees donated more than $115,000 to Perry’s failed 2012 presidential campaign, his second largest corporate donor, and donated more than $300,000 last year to the Trump campaign.
Less than 25% of the nation’s coal and nuclear plants would qualify for the increased rates in the Energy Department proposal. Only four out of dozens of electricity markets in our country would be affected.
Wholesale competitive electric markets were created under former President George H.W. Bush to foster competition. The average retail price per kilowatt of electricity, adjusted for inflation, has dropped from 16 cents, including taxes, in 1992 to about 10 cents in 2016.
“Wholesale competition worked as intended, driving inefficient, high-cost generation out of the market,” said consultant Alison Silverstein.
Perry is fudging facts to try to justify raising rates. Perry says his plan would protect the grid from power outages caused by coal and nuclear power plants that close because they can’t compete with cheaper, cleaner wind and solar energy and natural gas.
But only 0.0007%, or 2,815 hours, of 3.4 billion customer-hours of major electricity disruptions from 2012 to 2016 was due to fuel supply problems. Severe weather caused many outages.
Silverstein helped write a report for Perry that said regulation isn’t a huge factor in closing coal and nuclear plants. Perry’s Energy Department rejiggered her report to bolster the case for help for Perry’s former campaign donors.
“Perry and his team are doing all the right things for the cause, and if it works, great!” Silverstein said. “If it doesn’t work, it’s someone else’s fault. I think that’s the raw political answer.”