Coal Mogul Murray Heaps Praise on Perry’s Plan to Help Plants

Written by Tim Loh. This article first appeared in Bloomberg News. 

Coal mogul Robert E. Murray is calling Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal coal-fired power plants the “single greatest action” taken in decades to support cheap, reliable electricity.

Murray, the outspoken chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corp., called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in a statement to “swiftly enact” Perry’s proposal, which calls for creating new payments for power generators — mostly coal and nuclear facilities — that have at least 90 days’ worth of fuel stockpiled on-site.

Murray’s praise stood in stark contrast to those who’ve characterized Perry’s proposal as a bailout for the coal industry. It follows President Donald Trump’s repeated vows to put miners back to work. Natural gas, renewable energy and environmental groups have united to fight the plan, calling it a retreat from wholesale competition.

“Low-cost and reliable electricity is a staple of life, and this action will ensure that our electric power generating stations will be available when we need them most,” Murray said in his statement Thursday.

That same day, former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said he doubted whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would be able to satisfy Perry’s request. “A lot of people are not happy with this way of trying to change the wholesale market structure,” Moniz said at an event in Calgary.

Some members of the commission, an independent body that oversees the nation’s power markets, have already voiced concerns. “We will not destroy the marketplace,” Robert Powelson, who joined the agency in August, said in a speech on Wednesday. The agency has already requested feedback on 30 detailed questions related to the rule, ranging from how plants would qualify for compensation to the impact on consumers.

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