Dems blast DOE study as biased toward coal, nuclear

Source: By Timothy Cama, The Hill • Posted: Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A group of Senate Democrats slammed the Department of Energy’s (DOE) ongoing electric grid reliability study as biased toward power sources such as coal and nuclear.

The Democrats, who all sit on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the study Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered last month appears from the outset to be designed to boost coal and nuclear energy at the expense of renewable sources like wind and solar energy.

“The study, as you have framed it, appears to be intended to blame wind and solar power for the financial difficulties facing coal and nuclear electric generators and to suggest that renewable energy resources threaten the reliability of the grid,” the group led by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) wrote to Perry Monday.

“The notion that a 60 day review conducted by ideologues associated with a Koch brothers-affiliated think tank should supplant research and analysis conducted by the world’s foremost scientists and engineers would be a grave disservice to American taxpayers,” the senators said, referring to Travis Fisher, a veteran of the pro-fossil-fuel Institute for Energy Research, who has been tapped to lead the study.“It would constitute nothing short of an international embarrassment within a global research community that has long-relied on U.S. technical leadership.”

Perry directed his agency on April 14 to study whether renewables like wind and solar are pushing baseload power sources like coal and nuclear out of the market, and whether baseload sources should be allowed to charge more money for their reliability.

In a separate Monday letter to Perry, a trio of associations representing renewables took a more diplomatic approach, encouraging DOE to look positively upon wind and solar and be transparent and open in the preparation of the report.

“We note that these homegrown energy resources are proven technologies that help support grid reliability,” wrote the coalition of the American Wind Energy Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association and Advanced Energy Economy.

“Public input, including from energy market participants, grid operators, and regulators, would help ensure that any resulting recommendations from the study are based on the best available information.”