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article imageEnergy Secretary wants to know if wind and solar are killing coal

By Karen Graham     Apr 17, 2017 in Politics
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry is ordering a study of the U.S. electrical grid to find out if governmental policies favoring wind and solar power are accelerating the demise of coal and nuclear power plants, critical to a source of steady, reliable power.
In an April 14 memo obtained by Bloomberg News, Perry outlines his concerns over the “erosion of resources providing “baseload power”- In other words, coal and nuclear power. Perry asserts that coal and nuclear power provide "consistent, reliable electricity," even when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing.
This latest attack on the renewables industry is another attempt by the Trump White House to resurrect the coal industry to its former 19th-century greatness in America by dismantling the country's energy infrastructure, according to PV Magazine.
Perry ordered his staff to begin a 60-day review that will determine to what extent regulatory burdens, subsidies, and tax policies “are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants.” He also wants to know whether wholesale energy markets are adequately compensating coal and nuclear plants, such as taking into consideration on-site fuel supplies, strengthening grid resilience.
In the memo, Perry wrote to his chief-of-staff, Brian McCormack, he said: “We are blessed as a nation to have an abundance of domestic energy resources, such as coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric, all of which provide affordable baseload power and contribute to a stable, reliable and resilient grid. However, in recent years, experts have “highlighted the diminishing diversity of our nation’s electric generation mix and what that could mean for baseload power and grid resilience.”
Basically, Perry is saying that solar and wind energy are intermittent, whereas coal and nuclear are the base of the electrical grid, working in all types of weather. Perry is faced with the problem that many states are confronting today as natural gas edges out nuclear and coal power as being cheaper and cleaner to use.
Rick Perry smiles after a meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump in New York  on December 12  ...
Rick Perry smiles after a meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, on December 12, 2016
Kena Betancur, AFP
Another roadblock is The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees the national electricity grid. It is being charged with fixing a lot of the problems going on now, but President Trump has yet to appoint someone to replenish the five-member panel. The panel is down to two members now, so it can't make any policy decisions.
Coal states are in favor of Perry's plan to review coal's role and consider it a right move in bringing coal back to its former glory. "If we are going to have affordable, reliable energy that powers our economy and advances our quality of life, we must maintain an adequate supply of baseload electricity that is always available when it is needed," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Monday, according to the Washington Examiner.
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