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Is FERC Going to Let Rick Perry Put Coal In Our Stockings?

A Statement from Rev. Mitch Hescox


Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s terrible proposal that seeks to help old coal and nuke plants could receive a final decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) any day now up until their first meeting January 18.  We urge the FERC commissioners to completely reject this awful proposal.

Secretary Perry has tried to pass off this blatant attempt at corporate welfare as necessary for ensuring there is “grid reliability,” or no disruption in electricity service due to power shortages.  Mr. Perry wanted to blame our increasing use of renewables and clean air regulations for a non-existent “crisis” in grid reliability.

But DOE’s own study on the issue doesn’t even back this up, according to its principal author, Alison Silverstein, who worked in the George W. Bush Administration and was brought up from Texas by Perry to write the report.  Not only is there no crisis; not only are renewables and clean air regulations not responsible for this non-existent crisis, or even for recent closures of old coal-burning power plants, but the plants that would be bailed out by Mr. Perry can’t even do what he wants them to do.  

Here’s a quote from Silverstein explaining this; it’s a bit wonky, but you’ll get the drift:

"They cannot provide the essential resiliency and reliability services that we need, like voltage support, reg-up, reg-down, primary frequency response, secondary frequency response. … They can’t do anything except generate electricity that was once cheap and now ain’t so cheap relative to the other stuff."

There it is; they can’t compete, so Mr. Perry at the behest of President Trump is trying to make utility customers pay to keep them going; and in the case of the coal plants, consumers will be paying them to pollute the bodies of our children.

In a finding that should come as no surprise, only a handful of companies would receive over 80% of Secretary Perry’s old coal and nuke subsidies.  If you ever wondered what crony capitalism looks like, this is it.

Even a CEO whose company would benefit, and who was Chair of FERC during the George W. Bush Administration, Pat Wood, had the integrity to say that Mr. Perry’s proposal is an unwelcome gift.  

So we urge FERC not to allow Mr. Perry to give us all old coal and nukes for Christmas.

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