FERC scraps Secretary Perry's plan to prop up coal and nuclear

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The goals of this proceeding are to develop a common understanding among the Commission, industry and others of what resilience of the bulk power system means and requires; to understand how each regional transmission organization and independent system operator assesses resilience in its geographic footprint; and to use this information to evaluate whether additional Commission action regarding resilience is appropriate.

Late Monday, FERC rejected the DOE proposal and instead directed regional grid operators to study the grid resilience issue before any actions are undertaken.

President Donald Trump promised to aid the coal and nuclear industries, which have suffered shutdowns resulting from a glut of cheap natural gas.

The move was a blow to Perry who wanted FERC to reward certain nuclear and coal-fired power plants that store 90 days of fuel on site by paying for their operating costs through power price adjustments.

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While a few power companies with significant coal and nuclear capacity supported the idea, Perrys proposal generated a fierce backlash from a broad coalition of utilities, electricity consumers and former regulators. "In addition, the extensive comments submitted by the RTOs/ISOs do not point to any past or planned generator retirements that may be a threat to grid resilience".

"While some commenters allege grid resilience or reliability issues due to potential retirements of particular resources, we find that these assertions do not demonstrate the unjustness or unreasonableness of the existing RTO/ISO tariffs", FERC wrote in the order.

Monday's order doesn't dismiss the issue of grid reliability, however.

Four of FERC's five commission members are Trump administration appointees.

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Perry argues that these legacy baseload plants are critical to "grid resiliency" and should be compensated for remaining in service. But only one of them, former interim Chairman Neil Chatterjee, has been vocal in support of the NOPR's contention that coal and nuclear "baseload" power plants are deserving of market intervention to maintain grid reliability.

"As intended, my proposal initiated a national debate on the resiliency of our electric system", he said via email.

FERC said that while it had not used the term "resilience", it had pursued policies that would "ensure the uninterrupted supply of electricity in the face of fuel disruptions or extreme weather threats".

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