July 28–As governor of Texas, Rick Perry made his name privatizing the state’s electricity market, celebrating developments in fracking that fueled an oil and gas boom, expanding wind energy and minimizing regulations in the name of the free market.
“Today, horizontal slant drilling is tapping oil and gas fields unreachable just a few years ago,” he told the Legislature in a farewell speech in 2015.
“You can be proud that Texas produces more energy from wind turbines than all but five countries.”
As the nation’s energy secretary, Perry has chosen to promote the beleaguered coal and nuclear industries at the expense of ratepayers and also wind and natural gas power sources. First came a plan that would have required financial payments to coal and nuclear plants that maintain 90 days of fuel supplies. It was widely panned and rejected by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission.
Now comes an attempt to force power grid operators to purchase more expensive coal and nuclear power for two years as a matter of national security. This would keep certain coal and nuclear plants from retiring. The pretense is that much cheaper natural gas pipelines are vulnerable to cyberattacks, so these coal and nuclear plants must stay open. Experts disagree. Among these experts are Kevin J. McIntyre, who heads the Federal Energy Regulation Commission and is an appointee of President Donald Trump.
“There is no immediate calamity or threat of the ongoing ability of the bulk power system to operate and serve needs,” he has said.
The Brattle Group, a Massachusetts-based research firm, has estimated running outdated coal and nuclear power plants could cost the public $34 billion over the next two years.
Perry works for an administration that is unabashedly pro-coal, and its ties to the industry have been well-documented. But Perry’s persistence in bailing out the coal industry debases his own legacy on energy in Texas.
Let’s be clear. Perry’s plan would cost the public billions simply to sustain uneconomic plants. It’s bad economics and bad environmental policy. Perry should remember what he championed as governor. That would mean endorsing energy policies in the interest of American consumers and enterprise, not select industries.
(c)2018 the San Antonio Express-News
Visit the San Antonio Express-News at www.mysanantonio.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.