U.S. Senate Committee Takes Up Trump Failing Power Plant Bailout

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on President Trump’s plan to bail out failing nuclear and coal plants in the name of national security along with grid reliability and resiliency.

All five Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners testified at the hearing. Senators from both parties were skeptical that an anti-competitive bailout was necessary. Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, argued that, rather than pursue this type of bailout, FERC “should be pointing the way on grid vulnerabilities, while reaffirming our commitment to competition in wholesale power markets.”

FERC commissioners also expressed varied levels of skepticism related to this plan, with some saying that this kind of government intervention in the market would throw the power markets “into chaos” and another stated that the markets are currently working “hyper-efficiently.” Another commissioner acknowledged the current efficiency, but stated that FERC will remain vigilant and will not assume that its good fortune would continue, noting that he believed portions of the president’s approach had been well-researched and warranted further study.

Chairwoman Murkowski urged the commissioners to lead on this issue and move quickly to determine a policy in the face of pressure from the administration. 6/13/2018