WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has a key role to play in the fate of the Clean Power Plan, the proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants. In a letter to the FERC commissioners, the Nuclear Energy Institute noted that "FERC will play as important a role as EPA in achieving the objectives of the Clean Power Plan—reducing carbon emissions from the electric sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. That goal will be much more difficult to the extent that additional nuclear power plants are closed prematurely due to economic stress caused, in part, by flawed market design."
FERC last week held the first in a series of technical conferences on the Clean Power Plan. In the letter to the commission, NEI President and Chief Executive Officer Marvin Fertel said, "Any program to reduce carbon emissions would be seriously compromised if additional nuclear generating units shut down. 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 approximately 20 percent of America's electricity, and 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; the Vermont Yankee plant closed in December 2014.
As 2015 begins, nuclear generating assets in Illinois and in other competitive markets are at risk. NEI said, "There were several reasons for the shutdowns that have occurred—including low natural gas prices, and low growth (or no growth) in electricity demand for several years as the U.S. economy emerges from recession. But these plants' economic situation was also stressed by out-of-market revenues made possible by federal and/or state mandates, by price suppression that occurs in the energy markets, and by capacity markets that do not fully value the attributes the nuclear plants provide.
"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. In so doing, FERC would also prevent potential degradation in reliability of electricity service," NEI said.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry's policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at www.nei.org.
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Source:Nuclear Energy Institute