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CERAWeek: Perry says he supports states that think nukes are 'worth subsidizing'

Highlights

Cites need for baseload spending

Expresses willingness to discuss Green New Deal

Houston — US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Wednesday that he and the Department of Energy support states that find their nuclear power generating units "worth subsidizing."

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Speaking at CERAWeek by IHS Markit in Houston , Perry said he did not know if DOE staff was in discussions with state officials in Pennsylvania, where the legislature is debating new rules to include nuclear in a list of power generation types operating under a renewable portfolio standard. Perry said he personally was not involved in such discussions, but added they would be "wise to have." He said he supports programs run by states that do not rely on the federal government.

Perry added that the DOE has programs that support nuclear projects and pointed to the $8.3 billion in financial support the DOE has provided Southern Company utility subsidiary's expansion of its Vogtle nuclear facility in Georgia.

The US needs electricity that is uninterruptable, Perry said.

"We have seen what is happening [with blackouts] in Venezuela," Perry said. "In the US Northeast, we have no new gas pipelines in New York and nuclear facilities in New England are closing down. What happens in a polar vortex? What happens if New York City lost power for seven days? It would be catastrophic. Is the money spent on keeping baseload worth it? I think it is."

GREEN NEW DEAL

Perry said that the US is not running out of power, but is producing more than it ever has, and is producing it "cleanly."

"We are driving down emissions while also producing more energy," the DOE chief said. As the former governor of Texas, Perry could not resist mentioning the significant build out of wind generation in the state that soared during his tenure.

Perry said he was amazed at the lack of discussion on the progress the energy industry has made in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. "I am proud of our reduction of CO2 over the past decade," he said. LNG, Perry added, is "helping to drive down emissions and wouldn't it be good if we could get American LNG into a country like China and India and help [them] drive down their emissions, and bring our carbon capture utilization technologies to those countries that are continuing to use coal in their [power] plants that aren't technically advanced from the standpoint of cleaning up the emissions?"

Asked if he would be willing to have a discussion with proponents of the Green New Deal, Perry said he thought that would be "a good idea." He added that one of the Green New Deals biggest backers, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat-New York, should not be "castigated or pushed aside." Ocasio-Cortez "wants to live in a place with clean air and clean water. So do I. The question is: How do we get there?"

-- Jeffrey Ryser, jeffrey.ryser@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com