Energy Exchange

Fundamentals should guide FERC on PJM’s misguided state policy proposal

Federal regulators are currently considering a proposal that could fundamentally alter how our nation’s power markets work in tandem with state-crafted public policies.

The change being considered, submitted by the nation’s largest grid operator, PJM, would increase electricity prices and undermine state policies in the 13 states and D.C. where PJM operates. Today, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), alongside other clean energy advocates, filed in opposition to this proposal.

PJM’s proposal before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is dense and complex (for a great primer on the universe of issues surrounding a similar proposal, see this blog post by NRDC and this article by Vox’s David Roberts). At its core, however, PJM’s proposal centers on a subject that is elemental to the electricity sector: the interplay and interaction between states and federal regulators. PJM should not thrust itself into a public policymaking role, nor should FERC become judge and jury of state policies. Instead, PJM and FERC should facilitate state policy choices. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Illinois, Market resilience, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

FERC’s rejection of DOE’s pro-coal and nuclear proposal shows evidence can still trump politics

Last week the Midwest and northeastern United States experienced an historic cold snap that tested our nation’s electric grid. Like last year’s solar eclipse, unprecedented wildfires in California, and extreme flooding after Hurricane Harvey, this year’s “bomb cyclone” has not created a reliability crisis. In fact, it appears based on the evidence thus far that our electricity system – built upon the markets and long-standing operator practices behind our grid – passed this test with flying colors.

That’s why today’s decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject the Department of Energy’s (DOE) flawed coal and nuclear proposal is such an important win for American families, competitive markets, and the environment.

In mid-October, the DOE took the unprecedented step of asking FERC to provide guaranteed revenues and profits to uneconomic coal and nuclear plants. DOE did so with thinly veiled pretext, arguing without evidence that these plants support grid resiliency. FERC was quickly inundated with a chorus of resistance and disapproval from natural gas companies, environmental groups, consumer advocates, state attorney generals, and congressional members from both parties.  Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization / Read 4 Responses

Cuba’s electric future: Lessons learned and pathways forward

A new report from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) highlights lessons learned and recommendations for the future of Cuba’s electric sector. These include the benefits of Cuba’s decentralized grid, the potential benefits of fueling the grid with more clean energy, and new financing opportunities. The full report is entitled The Cuban Electric Grid, and an abridged version appears in The Electricity Journal. The report builds upon more than a decade of EDF engagement in Cuba.

Here are five key takeaways from the report. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Energy Innovation, Grid Modernization / Comments are closed

Rick Perry’s coal bailout is an attack on competitive energy markets, with customers footing the bill

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry – whose agenda as governor of Texas was squarely focused on states’ rights and free markets – is now pushing for a federal plan that could disrupt organized electric markets.

Perry’s proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) aims to prop up uneconomic coal at the expense of Americans’ health and wallets.

Perry’s proposal would effectively pay owners of coal and nuclear power plants their operating costs, plus a guaranteed profit, regardless of whether those plants are selling electricity at a competitive price. These aging plants are currently being driven out of the competitive market by flattened energy demand and a growing list of cheaper, cleaner, more efficient alternatives – from natural gas and renewables to demand response and grid-scale battery systems. Simply put, Perry’s proposal shields uneconomic coal power, replacing competitive markets with profit guarantees.

That’s not a thumb on the scale supporting obsolete and expensive energy; it’s an elephant.

Because carbon pollution from coal plants causes asthma attacks, heart attacks, and a staggering number of premature deaths every year, propping up this dirty energy source will not only raise electricity bills, it will hurt American families. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Energy Innovation, Grid Modernization / Read 1 Response

Secretary Perry continues to ignore the evidence on grid reliability, even his own

Late Wednesday night, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its so-called “study” on grid reliability.

Secretary Perry commissioned the report in this April memo, asking the DOE to investigate whether our electric grid’s reliability is threatened by the “erosion of critical baseload resources,” meaning coal and nuclear power plants. Perry took the unusual step of providing his own, pre-study conclusion, claiming that “baseload power is necessary to a well-functioning electric grid.”

His own report disagrees. It’s largely a backward-looking report that sometimes argues with itself, but comes, albeit grudgingly, to the same conclusion as every other recent study: the electric grid continues to operate reliably as uneconomic coal diminishes. Moreover, coal is declining because it can’t compete, and other resources are ensuring reliability at more affordable rates.

Perry seems undeterred by the evidence however, and the report’s accompanying cover letter and recommendations appear ready to double down on his pro-coal agenda. Here are three ways he tries to twist the facts in favor of dirty coal – a move that ignores more efficient, affordable, and innovative solutions and comes at a cost to Americans. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy / Read 3 Responses

What will FERC do in wake of increasingly affordable electricity prices?

Electricity is becoming increasingly affordable throughout the United States. This fact was not lost on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the entity charged with overseeing our interstate electricity grid, during a Technical Conference held last month.

Although the Conference was initially organized to focus on how regional electricity markets and state public policies interact, it became clear over the two-day long event that more fundamental questions were on the minds of many participants. Most significantly, for generators, was the question of cost.  Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, General / Read 2 Responses