Author Archives: Michael Panfil

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| 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

The Supreme Court Decides in Favor of a Critical Clean Energy Resource: Demand Response

rp_640px-Oblique_facade_2_US_Supreme_Court.jpgYesterday, the Supreme Court issued an important decision in support of a vital clean energy resource: demand response. The case, FERC v. EPSA, revolves around demand response, a resource that helps keep prices low and the lights on, all while being environmentally friendly.

It’s a significant victory for anyone in favor of a cleaner, cheaper, accessible, and more reliable grid. That describes a diverse group — consumer advocates, environmentalists, economists, states, grid operators, and leading legal scholars all filed in support of a critically important and well-designed policy creating access for demand response in wholesale energy markets. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization| Comments are closed

FERC, Grid Operator, Others File Supreme Court Briefs in Demand Response Case

Source: iStock

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a grid operator, states, and other parties just filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that could decide whether Americans have access to low-cost, clean and reliable electricity.

The case, EPSA v. FERC, revolves around demand response, a resource that helps keep prices low and the lights on – and does so while also being environmentally friendly.

In 2013, for example, demand response saved customers in the mid-Atlantic region close to $12 billion. And during the polar vortex, which threatened the North-East with freezing cold in 2014, the same resource helped prevent black-outs.

The clean energy rule at issue in this case is called FERC Order 745. EDF has been writing about this demand response case throughout the past year. We’ve been fighting for low-cost demand response and we’ll keep fighting in the Supreme Court.  Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing| Comments are closed

U.S. Supreme Court Breathes New Life into FERC Order 745, Demand Response

scotusYou’ve probably heard the saying “life is a journey,” but this could not be more true for EPSA v. FERC, the landmark demand response case clean energy experts have been eyeing for more than a year as it’s made its way through the U.S. legal system.

Starting in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals back in May 2014, EPSA v. FERC (also known as the “FERC Order 745 case”) now rests with the U.S. Supreme Court where, today, it was given new life when the Justices accepted the U.S. Solicitor General’s request for review submitted on behalf of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). Review was granted on both petitions, which have been consolidated, by FERC and Enernoc, et. al, case numbers 14-840 and 14-841. The Supreme Court granted review to both central questions, one about FERC’s authority and a second about challenges to central provisions to the order providing for fair valuation of demand response. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), along with a broad coalition of consumer advocates and environmental groups, supported FERC’s petition before the Supreme Court earlier this year and will continue to do so as the matter is reviewed by the high Court.

The decision to review the case is great news for demand response, a voluntary energy conservation tool that relies on people and technology, not power plants, to affordably meet our country’s rising electricity needs. It’s also a welcome sign for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – the government entity tasked with ensuring our electric rates are ‘just and reasonable’ – and anyone in favor of cleaner, more reliable, lower-cost energy. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response| Tagged | Comments are closed
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