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Electric Industry News, April 6, 2018

Today’s lede: Nuclear subsidies, paired with renewables, advance in New Jersey. Legislation providing for consumer subsidies of Public Service Enterprise Group’s nuclear plants is advancing in New Jersey, along with companion measures boosting renewable energy and offshore wind, requiring the state to obtain 50 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2030, Tom Johnson reports in

It’s another example of the playbook used in Virginia, where a Democratic governor’s support for utility-backed legislation is won by pairing it with clean energy advancement. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has set a goal for his state to obtain all of its energy supply from clean sources by 2050.

The package of legislative proposals moved out of their committees of jurisdiction after months of “contentious debate and false starts,” Johnson writes. The bills are expected to come up for a vote in both houses of the state Legislature next week.

The bills will impose billions of dollars in costs on New Jersey electricity consumers, rate counsel Stefanie Brand warned. The nuclear subsidy measure is projected to cost consumers $300 million a year, or $3 billion over the next decade. The clean energy measure would cost consumers $430 million over the next decade, she said.

See also:

NJ Landowners in Federal Court to Fight Pipeline Company

Dozens of New Jersey landowners were in court yesterday to challenge PennEast’s efforts to take possession of parts of their properties


FERC Staff Alleges PSEG ER&T Violated Tariff By Allegedly Submitting Incorrect Cost-Based Bids


‘We’ll be looking at 202,’ Trump says in W.Va. coal country. President Trump, at an event in West Virginia, said his administration would “look at” a request from FirstEnergy to exercise emergency authority under federal law to prop up the utility’s economically ailing coal-fired power plants. Trump referred to it as “202,” the section of the Federal Power Act establishing the emergency authority that FirstEnergy is asking the administration to utilize to intervene in the market in favor of the utility’s generation.

“We’ll be looking at that 202. You know what a 202 is? We’ll be looking at that,” Trump said. “We’re trying. Nine of your people just came up to me outside, ‘Could you talk about 202?’ We’ll be looking at that as soon as we get back.”

Specifically, the provision is Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act, which begins, “During the continuance of any war in which the United States is engaged, or whenever the Commission determines that an emergency exists by reason of a sudden increase in the demand for electric energy, or a shortage of electric energy or of facilities for the generation or transmission of electric energy, or of fuel or water for generating facilities, or other causes . . .”

Critics tend to emphasize the opening clause’s references to “war” and “emergency” to scoff that FirstEnergy is overreaching in its request, and a history of the Department of Energy’s use of its Section 202(c) authority shows that it was employed during hurricanes, the 2000-2001 California energy crisis and the 2003 blackout, but also during a few more prosaic events. But in every instance grid reliability was at risk. In this case, PJM Interconnection says there is no immediate threat to continued grid reliability from the closure of FirstEnergy’s economically struggling power plants.

Trump’s comments in West Virginia come a day after he reportedly met with FirstEnergy lobbyist Jeff Miller, who managed Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s presidential campaign.




Ohio PUC Initiates Proceeding To Protect Customers From FirstEnergy Solutions Bankruptcy

PUC Says It “Cannot Guarantee” FES Customer Contracts Won’t Be Impacted By Bankruptcy


Roberts: Why aren’t climate hawks ‘freaking out’ about nuclear closures? Former Grist contributor David Roberts, a long-time advocate for clean energy solutions and policies in response to climate change, has penned a provocative piece in Vox arguing that nuclear plants facing closure in the markets should be supported as non-carbon-emitting resources.

“Here’s my question: Why aren’t climate hawks freaking out about this?” Roberts posits after presenting data about the emissions impact of threatened nuclear plant closures by FirstEnergy and Exelon. “With a few exceptions, environmental groups are silent on the closures, or even support accelerating them.”

In a similar vein, see:

Ohio’s Kucinich Picks Nuclear Power


Analysis finds record low electric industry carbon intensity in 2017. An annual assessment of the carbon intensity of the U.S. electric industry has found that emissions last year were the lowest recorded in over two decades. While coal’s fall from grace and the increased market entry of renewable energy clearly is at play, there is also to consider that, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity use last year was at its lowest point since the 2008 economic downturn largely due to mild weather.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Carnegie Mellon University announced the results of the 2018 Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index at CMU Energy Week, hosted by the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.


Arizona lawmakers put competing renewables initiative on ballot. Voters in Arizona could be asked to consider two ballot initiatives in November that would alter the state constitution to require 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewables.

Lawmakers approved a utility-backed ballot measure, the“Clean and Affordable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment,” to compete with the “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment” being financed by billionaire political and environmental activist Tom Steyer.

While both would mandate 50 percent renewables, the utility-supported initiative would allow the Arizona Corporation Commission to nullify the mandate if it determines the renewables mandate would raise electricity prices or negatively impact the state’s well-being.

Howard Fischer, writing for Capitol Media Services, quotes state Sen. Steve Farley (D) as calling the measure “a cynical maneuver to try to confuse voters at the ballot so that they think this is the real clean energy initiative as opposed to one that’s being run by advocates at the same time.”



Other electric industry news of note:

Cheaper power bills? Rooftop solar wins major victory over utilities in SC House

Colo. clean-energy group criticizes Platte River Power Authority net-zero study

Bill to keep utility staff off Colorado Public Utilities Commission advances

Maine solar advocates powerless again as House upholds LePage’s veto by 3 votes

For the third year, a bill that would have supported the affordability of solar power among homeowners, and was approved by a majority of lawmakers, died at the hands of Gov. Paul LePage.

Maryland approves Washington Gas acquisition. Here’s what’s required

Dan Weeks: Setting the stage for a clean energy boom in New Hampshire

Opinion: Offshore wind energy could also power labor unions

Pennsylvania Utility Commission will investigate a proposed rate hike by Columbia Gas

Dispute over $5.4 million in legal fees for Aguirre may sink new San Onofre deal

How to Build a Foundation for New Utility Business Models

Regulatory reforms are becoming increasingly important, but regulatory processes can constrain the ability to design policies well.

CleanChoice Energy Launches CleanChoice Community Solar

New Platform Connects Customers and Community Solar Projects; Lowers Cost of Customer Acquisition and Servicing

PUCO Awards To Retail Supplier 100% Of Certain Low-Income Customer Load At DP&L

Study Says Clean Energy Options Could Replace Snake River Dams

Consumer Advocates Want More Protections For Illinois Electricity Customers


The power of unity: Consultant hopes to get Illinois cities to team up for cheaper electricity rates

French consumer group says EDF monopoly boosts power prices


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