Conservative think tank: Plan to help coal, nuclear power ‘arbitrary’

Source: By Devin Henry, The Hill • Posted: Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A conservative think tank is raising concerns about a Department of Energy plan to help boost coal and nuclear power.

An analyst for the American Action Forum (AAF) said the proposal, announced this month by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, aims to address a “real problem” with “not the best solution.”

Perry’s proposal aims to prop up coal and nuclear plants by mandating higher payments for the electricity they generate, arguing the two power sources are able to store so much of their fuel on site that they help support the reliability and resilience of the electric grid.

But Philip Rossetti, an AAF data analyst, said the plan “does not promote a policy that would necessarily achieve” a more stable electricity system, and instead would “arbitrarily value nuclear and coal power above their market rates.”

“The only effect of the [proposal] is to set an arbitrary target of on-site fuel requirements that values coal or nuclear power, regardless of if those sources are able to provide resiliency and reliability at least cost,” Rossetti’s analysis says.

AAF’s disapproval of Perry’s plan comes as others raise questions and doubts about the proposal.

The Institute for Energy Research, an energy think tank whose political side endorsed Trump, called the plan “excessive and unnecessarily distortive.”

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill blasted the plan during a hearing featuring Perry last week, and the Sierra Club estimated Monday that the proposal “would severely distort America’s energy markets and cause ratepayers’ bills to skyrocket.”

Perry has defended the plan as one meant to start a conversation about the reliability of the electric grid.

“I think the idea that there is a free market in electrical generation is a fallacy,” he said during congressional testimony last week.

“We subsidize a lot of different energy sources. We subsidized wind energy, we subsidize ethanol, we subsidize solar, we subsidize oil and gas. … The question is: How do you make it as fair as you can?,” Perry said.