This week Politico reported that Trump administration plans to save aging coal and nuclear plants have stalled in the absence of clearly identified financial backing. Some speculated the cost burden would fall squarely on the shoulders of customers – potentially bearing an annual price tag of $9.7 billion to $17.2 billion.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry argued the price tag is well worth the infrastructure resiliency afforded by coal and nuclear power plants which are capable of storing months of fuel.
All five of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) members countered there is no emergency justification for the bailout and that the unprecedented federal intervention could lead to an unraveling of wholesale power markets.
Sustained by shared opposition from Trump’s advisers on both the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, without significant tolerance for price increases to pay for the plan, it’s possible as the list of coal and nuclear plants under bankruptcy grows, Trump is quietly walking back his support for coal’s Hail Mary – at least for now.
All five members of FERC, the regulatory group responsible for the U.S. power grid, stated there is nothing to suggest an forthcoming emergency in the country’s electricity markets. Their testimony before Tuesday’s Senate hearing could undermine the Trump administration’s efforts to save ailing coal and nuclear plants through subsidies. Many of the plants have closed or signaled closure in the face of plentiful natural gas, growth in wind and solar power, and stagnant power demand.
At this point it is old news, that the largest electric utilities in Ohio have been in discussions regarding “restructuring” competitive markets within the state. Despite their efforts to change the current seven-year construct, Ohio voters may be the biggest political snag in their way.
Based on a poll conducted in January and by Fallon Research and Communications, and first reported by The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio voters are very much in opposition of a return to a regulated market construct that would allow monopoly utilities. The telephone survey was conducted in January polled a panel of 800 Ohio voters about key supporting issues. The results favoring energy choice and objection to monopoly utilities were consistent across party affiliation, gender, age, and location.
Results from Fallon Research’s Poll & The Plain Dealer’s Report:
More than 91 percent would oppose any law change allowing FirstEnergy or Columbus-based AEP to build new power plants and raise monthly rates to pay for them. AEP wants to do exactly that, build wind and solar farms and maybe new gas turbine plants while selling off or closing its old coal units.
Nearly 79 percent would oppose any legislation that did away with a customer’s choice to shop for power suppliers. Dozens of independent suppliers now compete for customers through a state-maintained “Energy Choice” website. A return to old-style regulation could end that kind of competition, say independent power companies, forcing customers to return to their traditional electric utilities for electricity as well as delivery.
Nearly 62 percent said they would oppose paying extra every month to support older power plants that cannot compete well against modern gas turbine plants. FirstEnergy has persuaded state regulators to do just that — though the latest subsidy does not mention its power plants. Federal regulators objected to earlier, more expensive proposals that spelled out exactly how the extra fees — amounting to an extra monthly consumer bill every year — would be spent.
Nearly 60 percent of voters would object to the creation of special subsidies for one fuel source — in this case FirstEnergy’s nuclear power plants, which are expensive to operate and do not always compete well against gas turbine plants. The idea has been adopted in New York and Illinois, but has been challenged as anti-competitive. FirstEnergy is considering asking for such a subsidy but has not made a final decision.
AARP and the Alliance for Energy Choice, a group representing independent power producers funded the statewide poll. The Alliance spokesperson, and former chairman of the PUCO, Todd Snitchler spoke on the results of the poll commenting that, “The results of the poll clearly demonstrate that talk about a need for re-regulation or changes to Ohio’s energy landscape, is pointed in the wrong direction.
Fallon Research and Communications. (2017). Ohio Voters on Energy Choice 2017. The Cleveland Plain Dealer [Distributor]. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2017/02/ohio_voters_want_energy_choice.html.
If you shop at a big-box or wholesale store, you know you can get just about anything you could ever need, and things you think you need, (or want, or think you might need) but really don’t. Tesla’s latest news is their bid for Solar City, the nation’s largest residential solar company. Elon Musk, as reported, is the Chairman and largest single shareholder in both entities, and the “deal” ($2.5B) still has to be approved by the SEC.
In the big scope of things, here’s how it would break down:
Sun shines (power transformed) by your “Tesla” solar panels installed by “Solar City”
Electricity powering your home also is stored in your “Tesla” Powerwall battery system (Giga-factory in Nevada)
Your Powerwall is charging up your “Tesla” car in the garage (batteries included) manufactured by “Tesla”
When you are bored, take a trip on “Tesla” Space X (rocket ship) to Mars (batteries included)
No Utility System needed….click the links below for more details:
That’s right, last week the technology giant filed for permission with federal regulators to sell electricity to consumers on the grid. Apple Energy as it will be known, is mainly intended to feed its own data centers, however, it wants to be able to take surplus power it produces and sell it back to other industrials at market based rates. Apple currently owns or controls generation facilities that qualify for such a task.
As a leading innovator Apple CEO, Tim Cook said, “We take the same innovative approach to the environment that we do with our products.” The Apple mission is to power every one of its facilities using entirely green energy, solar, wind, hydro, and thermal. In 2015, 93% of its energy came from renewable.
Apple says the investment in renewable energy is paying off and they won’t stop innovating as the amount of renewable energy available to them grows.
Who knows? In the near future you might be charging your apple cell phone with apple power.