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Coal supports CPP repeal; FERC denies more time to consider DOE proposed rule

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

Rate case activity slips, COVID-19 proceedings remain at the forefront in August


Coal supports CPP repeal; FERC denies more time to consider DOE proposed rule

Coal industry voices support of Clean Power Plan repeal

Major coal producers are expressing support for the Trump administration's move to repeal the Clean Power Plan. U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a notice of proposed rulemaking Oct. 10 that kicks off a repeal of the regulation, a move the agency said will save $33 billion in avoided costs in 2030.

"This action, together with the nationwide stay of the Clean Power Plan that Murray Energy Corporation received from the Supreme Court of the United States, has saved over 25,000 American jobs. We will continue to work with President Trump's administration to preserve low-cost, reliable electricity in America, and to protect the thousands of jobs and family livelihoods that rely on the United States coal industry," said Murray Energy Corp. spokesperson Gary Broadbent.

FERC denies requests to take more time to consider DOE proposed rule

Providing no explanation for the decision, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Oct. 11 rejected numerous requests that it give the industry and other stakeholders additional time to file comments on a proposal that would offer more cost support to struggling nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

The commission set an Oct. 23 deadline for initial comments and a Nov. 7 deadline for reply comments.

EPA accused of 'cooking the books' to drive up Clean Power Plan costs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made three seemingly simple changes in its cost-benefit analysis of the Clean Power Plan that boosted the cost of compliance with the rule by tens of billions of dollars.

While seemingly subtle, the rejiggered math pushed the EPA's 2015 highest range estimate of the cost of compliance in 2030 from $8.4 billion to $33 billion in costs to be avoided, according to a new regulatory impact analysis of the agency's repeal proposal.

Coal retirement plans increasing despite federal focus on grid reliability

The number of scheduled or completed coal capacity retirements is increasing through 2021 at the same time the U.S. Department of Energy is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to adopt a new rule that would bolster coal generation.

According to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence, about 49.5 GW of coal capacity is or was scheduled for retirement between 2013 and 2021, an increase from the 44.1 GW scheduled as of March 27 for that period. Forty-five coal units are slated to retire from 2017 to 2021, while 395 units have been retired since 2012, though certain planned retirements without firm dates are not reported in the data.

'Aggressive' move to boost coal adds to effort to dismantle Obama energy legacy

President Donald Trump's rapid and broad support of the coal industry is pivoting from not just undoing the legacy of the Obama administration but also proactively seeking to boost the sector.

"Unlike past administrations, this one appears to have no positive agenda, other than to weaken and roll back environmental protections," said Jody Freeman, director of the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Program and a former official in the Obama White House. "They have no strategy to address public health risks, or manage energy security and climate change simultaneously, which is what the Obama administration tried to do. They are focused on dismantling, not building."

Trump stacking roster with coal players after promising to revive sector

As President Donald Trump has worked a playbook for fulfilling a campaign promise to bring back coal, he has stocked his administration with a roster of players familiar with the industry.

"He'll surround himself with good people," CEO of Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp. Robert Murray said in May 2016, months before Trump would win the presidency. "That's a big takeaway that I had. He sought me out and he's looking for advice wherever he can get it."

Murray Energy says CSX issues improving, but shipments are still being missed

A Murray Energy Corp. executive told federal commissioners that CSX Corp.'s rail service problems are improving, but the coal producer is still losing millions of dollars from missed train shipments.

"There's still a gap between what we believe is necessary and what they believe is necessary to achieve the same goal," Robert Murray, executive vice president of marketing and sales at Murray Energy, said at an Oct. 11 hearing convened by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. The railroad's customers expressed frustration at difficulties shipping commodities ranging from chemicals and grain products to the potato flakes used in manufacturing Pringles chips.