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Coal executive denies influence on DOE's proposed grid resiliency rule

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s proposed rulemaking on power grid resiliency may have been directly influenced by a major figure within the coal industry, according to various news reports. The coal executive denies those allegations.

In September, DOE Secretary Rick Perry formally asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to adopt new rulemaking which rewards certain types of power generation sources based on their impact to resilency. These sources are the types which can stored on site, which mainly are coal and nuclear.

FERC is still considering the recommendations to reward baseload power plants, while both Perry and the coal power industry have denied any collaboration. However, the website In These Times earlier this month showed photos reportedly of a March 29 meeting between Murray Energy executive Robert Murray and Perry in which Murray reportedly presents the secretary with a wish list for the coal industry.

The DOE’s grid resiliency proposed rulemaking was announced six months later. Many experts say that, if adopted, it will help the coal and nuclear industries reap billions of dollars in pricing incentives.

Murray has denied any influence peddling and slammed “green groups” for making the allegations, according to The Hill website.

Three months ago, Perry formally asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue rules requiring pricing reforms for generation resources “necessary to maintain the reliability and resiliency of our nation’s grid.” His proposal follows a recent Energy Department report which warned against a rush to renewable resources and coal-plant retirements.

“A reliable and resilient electrical grid is critical not only to our national and economic security, but also the everyday lives of American families,” Perry said in a September statement. “A diverse mix of power generation resources, including those with on-site reserves, is essential to the reliable delivery of electricity—particularly in times of supply stress such as recent natural disasters.”

Such a move could be good news for coal-fired generation and nuclear power. And clean energy foes are aware that it might not be as good for them as it has been in the past decade.

“We worry today’s proposal would upend competitive markets that save consumers billions of dollars,” Amy Farrell, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement at that time. “The best way to guarantee a resilient and reliable electric grid is through market-based compensation for performance, not guaranteed payments for some, based on a government-prescribed definition.

FERC could decide the new rules as early as the first week of January, according to reports. It’s already delayed the decision-making once to consider them.

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