PJM calls Trump plan for coal, nuclear unworkable, perhaps illegal
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The nation’s biggest electric grid operator said a Trump administration plan to change the way electricity is priced to reward coal and nuclear power is both unworkable and potentially against the law.
PJM Interconnection, which operates the grid covering 65 million people from Illinois to Washington, D.C., submitted formal comments on the plan late Monday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
In a conference call with reporters and industry analysts, PJM’s president and CEO, Andy Ott, said the plan by Energy Secretary Rick Perry is not “workable.”
“In fact, we do believe it’s contrary to law and, again, will not really solve any problems,” Ott said.
Guaranteeing higher payments to coal, nuclear and other qualifying power plants would probably increase consumers’ electric bills, unless FERC found another source of money, Ott said.
Coal-fired and nuclear generators comprise just over half of all generation capacity in PJM’s region. However, the amount of U.S. electricity generated by coal has fallen to about one-third in the last decade, mostly as hydraulic fracturing has made natural gas cheaper and more plentiful.
The natural gas boom also has hit nuclear power plants, sending their owners in search of a financial rescue in states including Pennsylvania and Ohio where competitive electricity markets have compounded the effect.
In its 76-page filing with FERC, Pennsylvania-based PJM urged the commission to reject the plan drawn up by President Donald Trump’s administration.
PJM, which administers the transmission grid and the marketplace that brings electricity from power plants to customers, said the plan would undermine the reliability of markets, intrude on state policies, violate the Federal Power Act and represent a radical departure from the commission’s policies.