Energy Secretary Rick Perry is giving the nation's grid watchdog until the middle of next month to finalize his proposed grid plan to prop up coal and nuclear power plants, saying the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's inability to meet the original Dec. 11 deadline places the electric grid at risk.
Perry's Friday response came after the new Trump-appointed FERC chairman, Kevin McIntyre, requested an additional 30 days to evaluate Perry's grid plan, although the commission has discretion to act independent of the secretary.
Perry grudgingly approved the request, saying the "better course would be for the Commission to adopt the Proposal within this reasonable deadline," according to the letter, referring to the Dec. 11 deadline that he requested FERC meet back in September.
The secretary added that if the commission failed to meet the original deadline, then "the security of the nation's electric grid will continue to be at risk."
Perry's grid proposal calls on the commission to put in place market-based subsidies that reward coal and nuclear plants for making the grid more resilient to events that threaten prolonged blackouts. Resilience is interpreted by Perry as being able maintain a 90-day supply of fuel onsite at a power plant.
An industry coalition that includes oil, natural gas, solar, wind, merchant utilities, and others are standing firmly against the proposal as a threat to the current FERC-overseen grid market, which will drive up costs for consumers and harm reliability.
Perry approved Jan. 18, 2018, to be the new deadline for instituting the proposal.
In the meantime, Perry said he would look for "all options" available to him under the law to address grid resilience as a matter of economic and national security.