[UPDATED] PJM Interconnection President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Ott said this week that the White House proposal to provide aid to the nuclear power and coal industries as a reward for their reliability in producing steady electricity is both illegal and unmanageable.
The regional transmission operator with a territory that includes parts or all of 14 states and the District of Columbia – approximately 61 million customers in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and D.C. – said it informed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of its position late Monday. Ott spoke to reporters in a conference call on Tuesday.
At issue is the nation's policy response to the new energy marketplace that is transitioning from a standard formula of coal, natural gas, hydro and nuclear power to one that includes upstarts of wind and solar power. While solar remains a negligible player in the marketplace, wind power has made made more serious inroads into the market. However, both wind and solar power are intermittent, weather and sunlight-dependent power sources, which concerns grid operators and the general public.
However, Trump's plan to level the playing field by rewarding coal and nuclear power for their steady generation is “contrary to law and, again, will not really solve any problems,” said Ott in the conference call. Furthermore, the plan would raise rates for consumers unless another source of funding was found, he said, according to an Associated Press report.
The comments from PJM, which run 76-pages long, says, in part, that the White House plan "misidentifies a problem, misstates the cause, and then proposes a radical solution that is antithetical to clear Congressional and Commission policy in favor of promoting competitive energy markets.”
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of 2016, 1 percent of the electricity used in the country came from petroleum-based fuel, while 34 percent was derived from natural gas. Coal contributed 30 percent and nuclear power 20 percent. Renewable power contributed 15 percent with 10 percent of that coming from biomass – wood, biofuels, biomass waste – 43 percent from hydro power, 37 percent from wind, 6 percent from solar and 4 percent from geothermal.
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And yet the government can meddle in the mix by subsidizing solar and wind....
Why is that constitutional?