June 12, 2018

Wyden Presses FERC: Trump Administration’s Coal Bailout Will Raise Americans’ Utility Rates

Trump-appointed commissioner estimates Americans’ utility rates will go up between $250 and $500 per year

Washington, D.C. – Following questioning from U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a Trump-appointed commissioner from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today testified the Trump administration’s scheme to prop up uncompetitive coal plants would raise utility rates for American families.

At a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today, FERC commissioner Richard Glick told Wyden the administration’s effort would “clearly” raise utility rates for American families across the country. “The question is how much,” Glick said.

“The Trump administration is proposing a new tax on American households with its absurd, unnecessary scheme to blow up energy markets,” Wyden said. “The administration is reaching into Americans’ pocketbooks only to hand that hard-earned money to mismanaged utilities and uncompetitive coal companies, many of whom are Trump donors.

Last fall, Energy Secretary Rick Perry directed FERC to issue a rule that would force grid operators to buy coal from old coal plants, which would throw competitive electricity markets into disarray and leave consumers to pay for the increased costs of a less efficient energy market.

FERC rejected the Department of Energy’s proposal after Wyden and other lawmakers slammed the effort. But two weeks ago, the administration started circulating a memo outlining plans to issue an emergency order to subsidize coal and nuclear companies.

Glick said the Trump administration’s emergency order could raise utility rates anywhere from $32 billion, or about $250 more per year for the average American household, to $65 billion, or about $500 more per year, for no added benefit.

Oregon has a 50 percent target for renewable power production by 2040, and utilities are working with the state to achieve that goal. The administration’s emergency order could undermine Oregon’s work to meet it.

Read Wyden’s letter from October here