Trump's War on Progressive, Competitive Energy Markets

by Hannah Wiseman | June 13, 2018

It is widely recognized that President Trump has pushed an aggressive anti-regulatory agenda on the environmental front, but this agenda often hides a second, anti-free-market battle waged in the energy context.

For decades, Congress and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have worked to move the country toward competitive markets in the sale of wholesale energy – energy that generators sell to utilities, or which utilities sell to each other, and then to retail customers. Congress and FERC believed that introducing more competition into wholesale markets would reduce the cost of electricity for retail consumers because increased generation and access to generation would open up a previously limited supply. In staking out this approach, policymakers and administrators also recognized that competitive markets could encourage the construction of cleaner domestic energy resources.

In large part, this move has been successful. Deregulation of retail electricity markets has in some cases been plagued with serious problems, including higher prices for low-income consumers. But opening up wholesale electricity markets has, as anticipated, given utilities more access to a wider variety of lower-cost energy. (Much progress remains to be made in ensuring that lower wholesale prices filter through to retail consumers. This will require smarter, targeted infrastructure investments in transmission and distribution – the wires needed to deliver electricity to consumers.)

With respect to encouraging the production of cleaner, affordable domestic sources of energy, competitive markets have had a huge and ...

Coal and Nuclear Plant Bailout Would Be Unjustified Use of DOE's Emergency Authority

by Joel Eisen | March 30, 2018
It's no secret that the Trump administration and coal companies have drawn a bullseye on reversing coal's declining fortunes in wholesale electricity markets, where competition and inexpensive natural gas have driven coal's market share down from 50 percent in 1990 to about 30 percent today. Feeling bullish about their prospects in a sympathetic administration, owners of coal and nuclear plants have tried to extract subsidies to prevent what they view as premature retirements of large power plants.  This January, the ...
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