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Cramer Commends Department of Energy on Grid Resilience Proposal

Sep 29, 2017
Press Release

Recording: Audio

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Congressman Kevin Cramer made the following comments on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to support electric reliability and resilience.  

“As we’ve seen significant amounts of coal capacity closed over the last decade and electricity markets under-valuing reliability benefits provided by baseload power, like coal and nuclear, something needs to change to ensure Americans have access to reliable, resilient, and affordable electricity.  This proposal rightly recognizes the benefits of on-site fuel supply and other services like voltage support that baseload sources provide.  I questioned Chairman Chatterjee earlier this month on these resources being adequately compensated to prevent more premature closures and now urge him to promptly act on this proposal.”

The proposed rule will require organized electricity markets to provide cost recovery for on-site fuel storage, voltage support, frequency services, operating reserves, and reactive power which provide resilience benefits to the electric grid. Doing so would strengthen the resilience, especially during weather events that put extreme stress on the grid. During the 2014 Polar Vortex, for example, the DOE reported American Electric Power had deployed 89 percent of its coal united schedule for retirement in 2014 to meet demand, and Southern Company reported using 75 percent of its coal units scheduled for closure.  While these plants successfully met demand during this event, future weather events could cause disruptions to the grid if retirement trends continue. From 2002 to 2016, approximately 59,000 megawatts (MW) of coal generation was retired in the U.S. with an estimated 12,700 MW more to be retired through 2020.  Additionally, from 2002 to 2016, 4,666 MW of nuclear capacity was announced for retirement with another 7,167 MW announced for retirement since then. The Trump Administration is rightly acknowledging these vulnerabilities in order to prevent a future catastrophic power failure.

On September 14, 2017, in an Energy Subcommittee hearing, Cramer questioned panelists on the early shutdown of baseload generation, like coal, impacting reliability and increased costs to ratepayers.