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Houston Chronicle: Effort to revive coal tests Rick Perry's devotion to free markets

Posted by James Osborne on May 8, 2018

The Houston Chronicle reported: While governor of Texas, Rick Perry was approached by a group of power executives who warned that unless state regulators took steps to raise electricity rates, power plants across the state would close and regular blackouts could follow.

But Perry, a fierce advocate of keeping government out of the marketplace, turned them down. “He was heavily lobbied,” recalled Ken Anderson, a former Texas Public Utility Commissioner appointed by Perry. “ Ultimately, he said, ‘We’re going to rely on the market,’ and that’s what we did....”

The story captured AEE's and analysts' perspectives:

“Ultimately, it’s going to be very expensive, whether it puts the cost on ratepayers or taxpayers, all under this alleged emergency that doesn’t exist,” said Maria Robinson, director of wholesale markets at Advanced Energy Economy, a trade group whose membership includes large power buyers like Apple and Honda.

Many analysts believed the question of subsidizing coal and nuclear was put to rest last year, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected Perry’s proposal to allow higher power rates for coal and nuclear generators. But then FirstEnergy requested emergency intervention in March — through section 202 of the Federal Power Act — reigniting the interest of the administration. At an event in West Virginia last month, Trump said, “We’ll be looking at that 202, you know what a 202 is, we’ll be looking at that, we’re trying...”

“I don’t know what [Perry] is going to do, but I have faith in the administration to be creative,” Robinson said. “They are feeling compelled to do something to support an ally of the president.”

See the entire Houston Chronicle story here.

Topics: AEE In The News