Perry orders Energy Department study of electric grid

Perry orders Energy Department study of electric grid
© Greg Nash

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has ordered a departmental review of the electricity grid, targeting federal regulations and support for renewable energy that he says could imperil baseload power in the future. 

The review, according to a memo from Perry released on Monday, aims to assess whether federal policies have hurt the electric grid’s supply of baseload power, or the reliable electricity supply generated by large-scale power plants generally fueled by coal, natural gas or nuclear sources. 

Critics of renewable energy — particularly wind and solar, which don’t provide electricity when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining — say increased reliance on those sources puts baseload power at risk. 

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Perry’s memo orders his chief of staff to consider the role federal policies play in expanding renewable energy and whether that has hurt the reliability of the electric grid. 

The order, he wrote, should consider “the extent to which continued regulatory burdens, as well as mandates and tax and subsidy policies, are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants,” among other things. 

“The result of this analysis will help the federal government formulate sound policies to protect the nation’s electric grid,” Perry wrote in his memo, penned on Friday. 

The review is a sign that the Trump administration will expand its assault on Obama-era energy policies designed to expand the use of renewable energy and green the American electric sector. 

Trump has ready begun the process of dismantling energy regulations to cut power sector greenhouse gas emissions. In his memo, Perry said those rules “have destroyed jobs and economic growth and they threaten to undercut the performance of the grid well into the future.” 

Perry also criticized tax subsidies that have lead utilities to expand their use of renewable energy. Perry called those policies “market-distorting.”

Congress last extended energy production tax credits for wind and solar power in 2015.