This week Politico reported that Trump administration plans to save aging coal and nuclear plants have stalled in the absence of clearly identified financial backing. Some speculated the cost burden would fall squarely on the shoulders of customers – potentially bearing an annual price tag of $9.7 billion to $17.2 billion.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry argued the price tag is well worth the infrastructure resiliency afforded by coal and nuclear power plants which are capable of storing months of fuel.

All five of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) members countered there is no emergency justification for the bailout and that the unprecedented federal intervention could lead to an unraveling of wholesale power markets.

Sustained by shared opposition from Trump’s advisers on both the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, without significant tolerance for price increases to pay for the plan, it’s possible as the list of coal and nuclear plants under bankruptcy grows, Trump is quietly walking back his support for coal’s Hail Mary – at least for now.

A new study from Harvard University indicates that while wind energy provides long-term advantages over natural gas and coal, the renewable is not as clean as previously thought. Findings show that large-scale wind deployments require more land than accounted for by initial studies. Early findings also failed to identify turbine-caused temperature increases.

So while wind has already outpaced solar as America’s go-to renewable, solar’s environmental impact is ten times less than that of its blustery counterpart.

The study’s authors warn that this information should not be taken as a case against wind energy. “Rather, the work should be seen as a first step in getting more serious about assessing these impacts for all renewables.”

Source: Large-scale wind power has its down side – Harvard Gazette

Suggests Price Instability Is The Larger Threat

All five members of FERC, the regulatory group responsible for the U.S. power grid, stated there is nothing to suggest an forthcoming emergency in the country’s electricity markets. Their testimony before Tuesday’s Senate hearing could undermine the Trump administration’s efforts to save ailing coal and nuclear plants through subsidies. Many of the plants have closed or signaled closure in the face of plentiful natural gas, growth in wind and solar power, and stagnant power demand.

Source: Reuters, U.S. electricity commission sees no emergency in power market


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Study Shows Ohioans Oppose Regulated Energy Market

Ohio voters oppose a regulated energy market, according to a Fallon Research poll. Throughout 2016, the largest electric utilities in Ohio discussed restructuring competitive markets within the state. Despite the utility giants’ efforts to change the established seven-year construct, Ohio voters may be the biggest political snag in their way.

Fallon Research and Communications conducted the telephone poll in January. First reported by The Cleveland Plain Dealer, it revealed Ohio voters were uniformly opposed to a regulated market construct that would make way for monopoly utilities. The survey polled a panel of 800 Ohio voters about key supporting issues. The results favoring energy choice and objection to monopoly utilities were consistent across party affiliation, gender, age, and location.


Results from Fallon Research’s Poll & The Plain Dealer’s Report:

Evidence of Opposition to Regulated Energy

More than 91 percent opposed any law change allowing FirstEnergy or AEP to build new power plants and raise monthly rates to pay for them. AEP wants to do exactly that, build wind and solar farms and maybe new gas turbine plants while selling off or closing its old coal units.

Nearly 79 percent opposed legislation that would eliminate a customer’s choice to shop for power suppliers. Suppliers now compete for customers through a state-maintained “Energy Choice” website. A return to old-style regulation would end competition. Regulation would force customers to return to their traditional electric utilities.

Nearly 62 percent of people polled said they would oppose paying extra every month to support older power plants that cannot compete well against modern gas turbine plants. FirstEnergy has persuaded state regulators to do just that. Federal regulators previously objected to more expensive proposals that spelled out exactly how the extra fees would be spent.

Nearly 60 percent of voters objected to the creation of special subsidies for one fuel source. FirstEnergy’s nuclear power plants are one example. They are expensive to operate and don’t compete well against gas turbine plants. The idea has been adopted in New York and Illinois, but has been challenged as anti-competitive.

AARP and the Alliance for Energy Choice funded the statewide poll. The Alliance spokesperson, and former chairman of the PUCO, Todd Snitchler spoke on the results of the poll commenting that, “The results of the poll clearly demonstrate that talk about a need for re-regulation or changes to Ohio’s energy landscape, is pointed in the wrong direction.