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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative David B McKinley PE (R-WV)

WASHINGTON, D.C. —U.S. Representative David B. McKinley, P.E., (R-W.Va.) led a follow-up letter asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to provide an update on the agency’s efforts to protect the resilience of our electric grid.

Rep. McKinley, along with 16 of his colleagues, requested FERC to outline the measures it has to take evaluate grid resilience and strengthen the reliability of the grid. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) led a similar letter in the Senate.

“The closure of additional baseload power plants will weaken America’s national and economic security. With coal and nuclear plants already closing at alarming rates, the reliability of America’s electric grid is at risk,” said Rep. McKinley. “From the Polar Vortex to rolling blackouts in California to the growing threat of cyberattacks from foreign enemies, we’ve seen how weather and other external factors can stress our energy supply and threaten our security. FERC needs to follow through on its commitment to address grid resiliency, and in doing so guarantee reliable and secure energy for consumers.”

“Every home and business depends on the grid’s ability to keep the lights on, and this effort is about preserving access to reliable and affordable baseload power, like coal, which can meet the demand for electricity, regardless of weather or time of day,” said Senator Hoeven. “FERC has already gathered public input on the issue of grid resilience, but as we’ve seen during recent events, including California’s rolling blackouts in August, we need clear action to strengthen the grid by stopping the alarming loss of baseload generation capacity. That’s why we continue pressing FERC to ensure baseload power is fairly valued in regulated markets, while also advancing tools like the 45Q tax credit and CCUS technology to provide a true path forward for our coal producers.”

FERC opened its resilience docket (AD18-7-000) to receive public comment on the need to ensure markets properly value the resilience and fuel security of traditional baseload resources, like coal. However, the comment period ended in April 2018, and the agency has since taken no measurable actions to advance this priority. McKinley sent a letter in October 2019, requesting FERC to provide an update on the agency’s efforts.

In the latest letter, McKinley and the other Members wrote:

“Since FERC opened its resilience docket, approximately 37,000 megawatts (“MW”) of coal-fueled generation has shut down, and an additional 4,700 MW are expected to retire between now and the end of next year,” the Members wrote. “Likewise, some 9,900 MW of nuclear capacity is expected to close between now and 2025.  Collectively, that is roughly enough to power some 37.5 million homes.  Natural gas-fueled power plants have closed as well, particularly in California.”

“The closures of resilient and reliable generation sources have caused serious problems with the grid in several regions of the country.  For example, in August, California experienced an energy shortage during a heat wave, with high temperatures extending through the nights.  Those shortages have been blamed in part on the high amount of solar energy in the state, and California’s energy mix is required to ramp up from 33% renewables today to 60% by 2030,” added the Members.

To read the letter, click here.

Background:

McKinley is a leader in Congress on the issue of securing the reliability and resiliency of America’s electric grid:

  • In October 2019, McKinley led a letter requesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to provide an update on the agency’s efforts to protect the reliably of our electric grid. To read the letter, click here.
  • In April 2018, McKinley and Rothfus led a follow-up letter reiterating their calls for the Administration to invoke their emergency powers to prevent further closures of America’s coal and nuclear-fired power plants. This letter was signed by 20 members of Congress, including West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito.
  • In February 2018, McKinley led a letter with Rep. Keith Rothfus (PA-12) urging the Trump Administration to utilize their 202(c) emergency powers to secure America’s electric grid. The letter was signed by 23 Members of Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito.

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