FERC to play key role in EPA's Clean Power Plan

In a recent letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) said FERC will play a pivotal role in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan, a proposal to reduce carbon emissions by existing power plants. 

The plan calls for the reduction of emissions from the electric sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. 

“Any program to reduce carbon emissions would be seriously compromised if additional nuclear generating units shut down,” NEI President and Chief Executive Officer Marvin Fertel said. “To the extent market design, policies and practices under FERC's jurisdiction may contribute to those shutdowns, then FERC is indirectly responsible for the success or failure of EPA's initiative to reduce carbon emissions from the electric sector." 

Nuclear energy facilities provide 63 percent of America's carbon-free electricity. 

In 2013 and 2014, the United States shut down two nuclear power plants, both in competitive markets. The Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin closed down in May 2013 and the Vermont Yankee plant closed in December 2014. The NEI cited low natural gas prices, low growth in electricity demand and market oversights as reasons for shutting the plants down.

"Through its oversight of market design and market policies and practices in the nation's organized markets, and with appropriate changes to capacity markets and energy markets, FERC could help avert additional shutdowns, beyond those that have already occurred,” the NEI said. “In so doing, FERC would also prevent potential degradation in reliability of electricity service.”

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