Former energy commission members blast DOE coal proposal

Former energy commission members blast DOE coal proposal
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A bipartisan group of eight former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) members sent a letter Thursday criticizing a proposal to prop up coal and nuclear power plants.

The commissioners, five of whom are past FERC chairmen, said that while ensuring a resilient electric grid is a laudable goal, Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryThe Senate must reject Bernard McNamee’s nomination for FERC Overnight Energy: Coal consumption on track for four-decade low | Greens sue for records of EPA chief's meetings | Zinke picks fight with key Dem at odd time | White House jumps into energy subsidies fight Perry to visit Saudi Arabia, Qatar MORE’s proposal to give coal and nuclear plants higher payments is not the right way to do it.

The proposal "would be a significant step backward from the commission’s long and bipartisan evolution to transparent, open, competitive wholesale markets,” the former commissioners wrote.

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“We acknowledge that the markets today are not pristine; various kinds of external supports for resources still exist,” they said.

“But one step the commission has never taken is to create or authorize on its own the kind of subsidy proposed here.”

The letter, filed as a formal comment on the proposal to FERC, was signed by Betsy Moler, James Hoecker, Donald Santa Jr., Linda Breathitt, Nora Brownell, Pat Wood, Joseph Kelliher and Jon Wellinghoff.

Industries that compete with coal and nuclear, like natural gas, solar and wind, have slammed the proposal as unnecessary and harmful, as have environmentalists, Democrats and electric grid experts.

But coal and nuclear interests, as well as their allies, have lauded it as an essential step to stem the tide of plant closures over recent years.