Thought that controversial grid resiliency report ordered by Energy Secretary Rick Perry was only an intellectual exercise? 

It didn't take long for the Department of Energy to put it into action -- in exactly the way that critics feared when the report was first announced.

Last week, Perry asked federal energy regulators to consider new rules that would value coal and nuclear plants that are capable of keeping 90 days of fuel on hand. In other words: Find a way to help keep struggling baseload plants open by offering them a new financial incentive.

Or, as a supposed free-market proponent like Perry might put it for any other technology, "pick winners and losers."

After months of "prebuttals" from renewable-energy interest groups, the final DOE study was widely considered a straightforward account of power plant retirements on the U.S. grid. Travis Fisher, the project coordinator at the DOE, joined us on the podcast to talk through the process and his team's findings. 

While many cleantech enthusiasts disagreed with the lack of attention on distributed resources in the report, there was wide agreement that it was not a political document. That is, until Perry issued his letter to FERC last week. Now the politics are center stage. And it's going to get messy.

In this week's Interchange podcast, Shayle Kann interviews Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School. They'll talk about the specifics of Perry's "flimsy" request, and, more importantly, what it could mean for regulatory priorities under FERC. Has the government found a new way to keep coal alive? Or is this a half-baked attempt to prop up struggling plants?

"This seems to be a total retreat from market-based principles," explains Peskoe in the podcast.

Recommended reading and listening:

  • The Interchange: A Conversation With Travis Fisher, Lead on DOE’s Epic Grid Reliability Report
  • GTM: Energy Secretary Perry Requests Federal Rules to Boost Cost Recovery for Coal and Nuclear
  • Rick Perry's letter to FERC

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