Electricity regulators in the US have rejected proposals by the Trump administration to “subsidise” struggling coal-fired and nuclear plants over support for developing battery storage technologies.
The US energy department had proposed a rule that would increase aid for coal and nuclear to ensure “grid resiliency”— in line with President Donald Trump’s pre-election pledge to ‘reopen mines and bring back coal’.
However, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected the bid on 8 January— saying it should be up to grid operators to make their own suggestions to make power systems more resilient.
FERC commissioner Richard Glick said “the addition of a diverse array of generation resources and maturing technologies such as energy storage, distributed generation and demand response, have in many respects contributed to the resilience of the bulk power system”.
The energy department’s proposed rule “had little, if anything, to do with resilience and was instead aimed at subsidising certain uncompetitive electric generation technologies”, Glick said. “It is important to consider the advantages that newer technologies, such as distributed energy resources, energy storage, and microgrids, may offer in addressing resilience challenges to the bulk power system.”
Energy secretary Rick Perry brushed off the FERC’s slap down saying “as intended, my proposal initiated a national debate on the resiliency of our electric system.”
Perry said he would work with the FERC “to ensure the integrity of the electric grid”.
US Energy Storage Association CEO Kelly Speakes-Backman said the body “looks forward to working with FERC, DOE, and other stakeholders to ensure that the flexibility of energy storage can be measured, valued, and compensated effectively to meet the resilience needs of our electric system”.
In a related move, Speakes-Backman praised New York governor Andrew Cuomo for committing an investment of $260 million to achieve a goal of deploying 1500MW of energy storage by 2025.