Former members of US energy market regulator FERC against government plans to subsidize coal and nuclear power

A proposal submitted at the end of September by US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to the independent US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to subsidize certain fossil and nuclear power plants has now also been rejected by former members of the Commission. Perry, based on a controversial study on grid reliability ordered by his ministry in April, had called on FERC to provide financial support for power plants that could provide backup capacity in the event of a major disruption to the grid. This is intended to counteract »premature retirements« of such power plants.
After Perry's initiative, several members of the FERC, including Robert F. Powelson, recently nominated by President Donald Trump, had already pointed out that the Commission was conceived as an independent institution and is not subject to instructions. Last week, eight former FERC members, including five former chairmen, expressly rejected the initiative in a statement. The signatories, sent to the Commission by both Democrats and Republicans, warned of a »significant step backward from the Commission’s long and bipartisan evolution to transparent, open, competitive wholesale markets.« Adoption of the proposals would »disrupt decades of substantial investment made in the modern electric power system, raise costs for customers, and do so in a manner directly counter to the Commission’s long experience«.

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