"Energy Secretary Rick Perry is proposing to turn back the clock on the nation's organized electricity markets, directing federal energy regulators to consider cash subsidies for coal and nuclear power plants that are unable to compete and face being shut down.
The move could effectively dictate the agenda of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the next few months if the independent agency takes up the Department of Energy proposal. Perry requested that the agency act in 60 days in an extraordinary letter to the agency's acting chairman, Neil Chatterjee, and other commissioners.
"We have received the proposal and are reviewing it," a FERC official said.
The DOE request brings into focus a simmering competition between the coal and natural gas industries, which are head to head in terms of how much electricity production their respective fuels account for in markets with very little growth in demand and increasing use of renewables — which have no fuel cost."