Perry says resilience decision rests with White House

Source: Rod Kuckro, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, September 28, 2018

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said yesterday that the disposition of possible aid to coal and nuclear power plants deemed critical to national security rests with the White House.

“I don’t have anything new to report from four or five months ago. It’s still being talked about, it’s still being bandied around the White House,” he said during a roundtable with reporters in his office.

“We’ve given them all the information that we have, showed them where the potential for challenges are, and we’re waiting for them to make a decision as to which direction they want to go,” he said.

Asked whether the Department of Energy’s work is done on the resilience issue and identifying power plants for possible support, Perry replied, “Pretty much.”

No need to release crude from strategic reserve

Perry also said the administration has no plans to draw down crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to mitigate a possible increase in world oil prices as a result of sanctions on Iran taking effect in early November.

Twice Perry replied “no” when asked about using SPR.

“If you look at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and if you were to introduce it into the market, it has a fairly minor and a short-term impact,” he said.

Some oil analysts have suggested that the reserve, which has a capacity of 727 million barrels, could be called on if world prices rise as they have in the past in the aftermath of natural disasters or military operations. The reserve has an inventory of 660 million barrels as of Sept. 21.

Perry had just returned from a trip to Europe where he met in Moscow with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak to discuss, among other things, ways the two nations cam work together to ensure stable oil and natural gas supply and prices.

“Our message is a steady supply is good for the world,” Perry said. “Big cyclical changes in supply are not good for the world’s economy. We need as best we can to keep that price of crude as stable as we can.”

To help soften the blow from the loss of Iranian exports, Perry said the U.S. is ready to increase its crude production from 10.8 million barrels per day this year to 11.5 million barrels per day in 2019.

“I’m not sure I read that steady as you go is necessarily a signal to the market that prices are going up,” he said.

He said the oil market “has already adjusted” to the anticipated loss of Iranian crude, adding, “My job is not to be a market prognosticator or forecaster.”

In Moscow, Perry said he also expressed his disappointment and concern about Russia’s continued attempts to infiltrate the American electric grid.

He declined to elaborate what Russia is doing to attack the U.S. grid, only to say of recent press reports, “I will confirm that’s not incorrect.

“We had a very warm dialogue. At the same time, we were blunt,” Perry said. “We expect them to be good citizens of the world, to be responsible.”

Cyberattacks on the grid “go on all the time,” Perry said.

“The folk who would do harm become more sophisticated as the days go forward. To date, we have stayed up with that. I have pretty good confidence that we will continue to, so I don’t think it’s necessarily inevitable” that an attack will be successful in disabling a portion of the grid, Perry said.