October 19, 2017

Wyden: Secretary Perry is Putting Coal Executives over American Consumers

Demands Withdrawal of Proposed DOE Rule that will “Destroy Competitive Power Market and Raise Utility Rates for Millions of Americans”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to withdraw a proposed Energy Department rule that Wyden stressed is a thinly veiled attempt to prop up uncompetitive coal companies at the expense of American consumers.

The Department of Energy’s proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule, which Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced in September, would do nothing to achieve its stated goal of improving the reliability of the electricity grid. Instead, it would likely throw competitive electricity markets into disarray, meaning consumers would likely be forced to pay for the difference.

“The reality is that, if implemented, this rule would destroy competitive power markets and raise utility rates for millions of Americans,” Wyden wrote in a letter to FERC. “Arbitrarily propping up a dying industry goes against what the GOP has long claimed is its goal--an all-of-the-above energy strategy. This rule clearly picks winners and losers in energy resources, which robs taxpayers of the benefits of competitive markets.”

The proposed rule has been sold as a fix to improve the resilience and reliability of the electricity grid. However, the only factor targeted by this rule—on-site fuel storage—would not have helped grid restoration efforts after recent damaging storms like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. During Hurricane Harvey, for example, power outages were largely caused by flooding of generator fuel supplies and downed power lines, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Additionally, by subsidizing old, uncompetitive and dirty coal plants, the proposed rule will leave consumers with the increased costs of a less efficient energy market. The proposal has been panned by a diverse swath of industry groups including the American Council on Renewable Energy, Advanced Energy Economy, the American Petroleum Institute, the Natural Gas Supply Association, the American Public Power Association and others. Energy policy experts such as former FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff have also weighed in, saying the rule would “blow up” wholesale power markets, increasing electricity costs for consumers.

“Our country needs a reliable and resilient grid and Americans must have access to affordable electricity,” Wyden wrote. “I believe we can harness American innovation to deploy new energy technologies that are cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable. To that end, I insist that you withdraw this damaging proposed rule in its entirety.”



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