US FERC rejects Energy Secretary’s plan to subsidise coal and nuclear power plants

10 January 2018 (Last Updated January 10th, 2018 09:36)

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to provide financial assistance to coal and nuclear power plants.

US FERC rejects Energy Secretary’s plan to subsidise coal and nuclear power plants
Environment America requested Rick Perry to back off on his proposals to the FERC. Credit: Environment America.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to provide financial assistance to coal and nuclear power plants.

The federal agency believed that supporting the use of fossil fuels would undermine efforts to shift towards renewable energy.

Environment America energy programme director Rob Sargent said: “Secretary Perry’s proposed rule was but another in a long list of actions by the Trump administration that defy the facts to appease the polluter lobby.

“Recent increases in demand for solar and windpower capacities has reduced demand for electricity produced from coal and nuclear power plants.”

“We should not tolerate actions like this that are designed to extend the life of polluting and risky power plants.”

Recent increases in demand for solar and windpower capacities has reduced demand for electricity produced from coal and nuclear power plants.

Environmental Working Group senior energy policy advisor Grant Smith said: “Perry’s rationale for his scheme was not supported by the evidence, nor by advances in technology.

“Perry argued that coal and nuclear plants are resilient because fuel is stored on site. But most power outages are due to storm damage to transmission and distribution lines. Power generated near the customer, such as through rooftop and community solar, reduces their vulnerability.

“The era of large, remote, power plants is rapidly ending. We should be moving forward, not backward on behalf of these cumbersome, vulnerable, expensive technologies.”

The US’ commitment towards renewable energy between 2014 and 2015 includes the installation of around 15,800MW of natural gas, 13,000MW of wind, 6,200MW of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV), and 3,600MW of distributed solar PV generating capacity.

In addition, nearly 42,000MW of coal, nuclear, and natural gas generating units were shut down between 2011 and 2014, with an additional seven nuclear units expected to retire by 2025.

Sargent added: “Renewable energy is making our communities cleaner and our children healthier. Given our environmental challenges and the threats posed by climate change, we need to work together to accelerate the shift away from polluting fuels such as coal to clean energy.”