A few tidbits on the DOE request for new FERC rules that boost consumer payments to coal and nuclear plants based on their "resilience and reliability" attributes...
Enlisting allies: A new comment filing in the FERC docket making the rounds yesterday signals how the fight over the rule is taking on the hues of familiar Beltway advocacy campaigns.
- The United Way of Jefferson County, Ohio, says that DOE's proposal should be adopted because it will sustain the viability of critical power plants, create jobs, maintain reliability and "provide substantial economic benefits to the many hard-working Americans living throughout the region."
The filing notes that First Energy, an Ohio power company with a generation mix that's heavy on coal and nuclear, provides the group $15,000 annually. As a few people noted on Twitter yesterday, the party listed as filing the document is...First Energy.
From the wonksphere: Experts from think tanks and academia weighed in yesterday where it matters most: via blogs.
University of California-Davis economics professor James Bushnell criticizes the proposal here, arguing that it's a thinly disguised sop to coal. Below is an excerpt of his lengthy post on the blog of Energy Institute at Haas:
- There is almost nothing a nuclear and coal plant can do that a modern natural-gas power plant can't do, with the possible exception of providing power at the end of a congested gas pipeline during an extreme cold snap. This fuel reliability story, calling upon anecdotes from the 2014 polar vortex, provides pretty much the entire basis for calling coal and nuclear more reliable.
- The DOE proposal identifies the ability to store 90 days-worth of fuel on-site as the key attribute that is not rewarded in today's market. Why 90 days? Are we really planning for a 3-month polar vortex now, or is that long enough to disqualify gas plants with on-site oil reserves, an obvious alternative solution to the "problem"?
Over at Resources For the Future, senior fellow Timothy Brennan says there are ways to try and ensure reliability without funneling more ratepayer cash to financially struggling coal and nuclear plants.
Instead, he writes in a new post, regulators could "treat offers of energy or capacity as binding, subject to meaningful penalties for nonperformance."