12 energy associations tell FERC that DOE nuke/coal bailout is nuts

The first deadline for comments about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) attempt, at the behest of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to bail out inefficient nuclear and coal plants with taxpayer money passed yesterday – and 12 associations representing a range of energy interests have submitted blistering testimony opposing the rule.

On September 29, Perry sent a letter to FERC asking them to expedite passage of a rule that would give utilities the right to recover all allocated costs for traditional “baseload resources”, something a new grid based on distributed generation sources like solar and wind will no longer need. Four days later, FERC agreed to put the rule on its agenda and move forward on an accelerated schedule, with two rounds of comments: one due yesterday, and one due on November 7.

After the accelerated schedule was announced, 12 associations ranging from the American Petroleum Institute to the Solar Energy Industries Association joined forces to submit joint comments on the proposal. Summed up in three words, the gist of the comments was this: “Are. You. CRAZY?”

For starters, say the associations, Perry has shown no evidence that the grid will gain anything meaningful from this use of taxpayer money. The main justification for the bailout is what Perry insists is a need for baseload power to maintain grid resiliency, but his proposed rule is a solution in search of a problem.

The associations argue in their testimony that this “resiliency” of which Perry speaks is undefined and does not appear to be a problem in any of the regions that would be covered by this new rule.

Perry’s letter also frequently referenced what he referred to as the “premature retirement” of coal and nuclear plants, which flies in the face of what one might call, you know, real-life evidence. In fact, far from arguing in favor of continuing operation of inefficient, old energy plants, utilities are in fact accelerating the pace of coal-plant closures and moving to cleaner electricity generation (as pv magazine has previously reported).

In their testimony, the associations wrote:

There is substantial evidence showing that electric systems that lack, or are transitioning to lesser reliance on, coal and nuclear resources are nonetheless operated in a manner that is both reliable and resilient [and that] outages caused by disruptions of fuel supply to generators appear to be virtually nonexistent.

In other words, your argument is stupid and you should feel stupid for even making it.

The full list of associations involved in the joint comments include:

  • Advanced Energy Economy
  • American Biogas Council
  • American Council on Renewable Energy
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • American Wind Energy Association
  • Electric Power Supply Association
  • Electricity Consumers Resource Council
  • Energy Storage Association
  • Independent Petroleum Association of America
  • Interstate Natural Gas Association of America
  • Natural Gas Supply Association
  • Solar Energy Industries Association

The next round of comment on the proposed rule are due November 7.