The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from DCReport.


The wind and the sun may be free, but Trump’s energy regulators want you to pay the same price – or more – for clean energy than what we pay for electricity from our country’s aging, dirty coal-fired power plants.

The Republican-dominated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave states and utilities just 60 days to weigh in on how to do this in nation’s largest wholesale electricity market serving 65 million customers in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

“We’ve never seen this kind of federal intrusion in the energy industries,” said energy consultant Rob Gramlich.

The proposed changes could cost consumers billions of dollars more. One estimate for a narrower proposal said it could cost utility users $14 billion to $24.6 billion roughly over the next 10 years. That’s between $216 to $379 for each of the 65 million people served.

Action Box/What You Can Do About It

Call the Republican members of FERC who voted for the plan that will help coal companies, Kevin McIntyre, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, at 202-502-8000 or write at 888 First St., NE, Washington, DC 20426.

Contact the Natural Resources Defense Council at 212-727-2700 or

Fossil fuel’s share of how much energy we consume in the U.S. was the lowest last year that it’s been since 1902 when whale oil was still being used. States such as Maryland and New Jersey require utilities to generate some electricity from renewable sources like wind, and states including Illinois and New York subsidize nuclear power.

The regulators plan to expand the minimum price rules in electricity auctions for PJM which serves all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia. This higher base price would help make coal-fired power plants more competitive at a time when some coal companies are filing for bankruptcy.

Clean energy could help wholesale energy prices drop by 25% or more, but coal moguls such as Robert E. Murray and Joseph Craft, who donated a million dollars to Trump’s inauguration, want Trump to shaft consumers and keep polluting coal fires burning.

Trump has appointed four regulators, Democrat Richard Glick, and three Republicans, Kevin McIntyre, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson. Those Republicans voted for a plan that would in effect have taxpayers paying twice for clean energy, once for state subsidies and a second time at auctions to guarantee that power is available at times of peak demand.

These “capacity markets” were set up to try to ensure that enough electricity is available, but a 2018 GAO report found at least some of these markets may not work well enough.

Glick, who voted against the proposal, said that the commission “fails to recognize the cost of stymying state efforts to address environmental externalities, such as climate change.” Democrat Cheryl LaFleur also voted against the proposal.

Miles Farmer, an attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, said the proposal could ultimately also help clean energy because it would allow utilities to opt out of auctions to buy backup power for times of peak demand and instead line up their own power, including wind and solar energy.


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Rep. Adam Kinzinger

When the flags fly proudly on the Fourth of July, I remember what my late father taught me about love of country. Much as he despised the scoundrels and pretenders he liked to call "jelly-bellied flag flappers," after a line in a favorite Rudyard Kipling story, he was deeply patriotic. It is a phrase that aptly describes the belligerent chicken hawk who never stops squawking — someone like Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

Like many who volunteered for the U.S. Army in World War II, my dad never spoke much about his four tough years of military service, which brought him under Japanese bombardment in the Pacific theater. But eventually there came a time when he attached to his lapel a small eagle-shaped pin known as a "ruptured duck" — a memento given to every veteran. With this proof of service, he demonstrated that as a lifelong liberal, he loved his country as much as any conservative.

Keep reading... Show less

Liz Cheney

YouTube Screenshot

Rep. Liz Cheney delivered two clear warnings during last week's House Select Committee hearings. One was to Donald Trump aides and allies who conspired with him to violently overthrow our government. The second was to those who merely observed these crimes but refuse to tell what they know.

The first message: the game is up because the J6 committee has the goods on Trump’s conspiracy, the coverup and the witness tampering so it’s time to either rat out Donald to save your own skin or give up any hope of leniency when indictments are handed out.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}