Industrialists want lawmakers to block Perry’s FERC proposal

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Operators of the nation’s factories and industrial plants are trying to enlist Congress’ help to halt Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s request for market reforms to boost coal and nuclear power.

Ahead of the secretary’s appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow, the Industrial Energy Consumers of America called on Republican and Democratic leaders to ask Perry to withdraw his request for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rulemaking (Greenwire, Oct. 6).

Calling Perry’s proposal “anti-competitive,” the group said grid overseers have concluded there is no such reliability “emergency” to support FERC action.

“The proposal would undo the competitive wholesale electricity markets that benefit all American consumers, replacing it with an unworkable and intrusive centralized pricing system,” IECA President Paul Cicio wrote.

Congressional committees have jurisdiction over DOE and FERC, and the Trump administration — aside from campaigning to boost coal and nuclear — has made growing domestic manufacturing a high priority.

Perry has taken to Twitter to defend his proposal as “transparent, reasonable and proactive,” an argument he’ll likely make to lawmakers, despite pushback from the oil and gas sector and skepticism among prominent GOP members like Rep. Pete Olson of Texas.

FERC posted a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register yesterday, noting that Perry is asking for final action within two months.

The secretary as an alternative urged FERC to issue an “interim final rule” with the possibility of making changes after outside groups weigh in.

Oil and gas interests have asked for more time to digest Perry’s request. Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy Corp., which would directly benefit from higher payments for coal electricity, has argued against allowing a lengthier comment period.