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[Episode #41] – Generator Survival Strategies

Owners of old nuclear and coal power generation in the US are on the ropes, because their plants can’t compete with cheaper natural gas and renewables. Some—especially those operating in competitive markets—are simply shutting down, while others are trying a whole host of survival strategies: seeking special payments and subsidies, “around-market reforms,” and even getting states to give up on competitive generation markets and go back to the old regulated utility business. So what are the pros and cons of these strategies, and what are the implications for consumers and for energy transition as a whole? Gavin Bade, an editor at Utility Dive who has written extensively on these topics, leads us through a tangle of legal, technical, and economic implications toward a more clear-eyed picture of how incumbent generators are trying to survive the transition.

Geek rating: 5

Guest: Gavin Bade is an Editor at Utility Dive. Before that, Gavin was the editor-in-chief of Georgetown’s alt-weekly newspaper, The Georgetown Voice, and worked for a number of media publishers, including The American Prospect, NPR, the New America Foundation, and WGVU. He has a BS in Culture and Politics from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, and plays a mean jazz baritone sax.

On Twitter: @GavinBade

On the Web:

Gavin’s articles at Utility Dive

Gavin’s personal page

Recording date: April 8, 2017

Air date: April 19, 2017


Gavin Bade, “With CPP on ice, utilities seek organized market reforms to save baseload plants,” Utility Dive. (Jun 14, 2016)

Gavin Bade, “Re-regulation on the horizon? State plant subsidies point to looming 'crisis' in organized power markets,” Utility Dive. (Oct 20, 2016)

Gavin Bade, “Atoms for green energy: What role should nuclear power play in decarbonization?” Utility Dive. (July 21, 2016)

Gavin Bade, “New York PSC rejects challenges to nuclear subsidy program,” Utility Dive. (Dec 29, 2016)

Gavin Bade, “Why utilities don't think Trump will stop the clean energy transition,” Utility Dive. (Mar 28, 2017)

Utility Dive 2017 State of the Electric Utility Survey Report

Gavin Bade, “'Million rate bases': TFC makes the case for a new IOU business model in Hawaii,” Utility Dive. (Mar 23, 2017)

Gavin Bade, "The great capacity market debate: Which model can best handle the energy transition?" Utility Dive. (Apr 18, 2017)

Gavin Bade, "FERC chair outlines three paths for power market reforms ahead of technical conference," Utility Dive. (Apr 19, 2017)

Robert Walton, “Pushed by REV, ConEd tests new utility business models in New York,” Utility Dive. (Apr 3, 2016)

State of the Market Report for PJM 2016, Monitoring Analytics (Mar 9, 2017)

Raymond Gifford and Matthew Larson, “State Actions in Organized Markets,” Wilkinson Barker Knauer. (Sep 2016)

Map of Deregulated Energy States and Markets

Pacific Northwest National Lab, Electric Utilities, Deregulation Electric Utilities, Deregulation and Restructuring of U.S. and Restructuring of U.S. Electricity Markets Electricity Markets

Taylor Kuykendall and Hira Fawad, “ChartWatch: Most planned coal retirements complete with more to trickle offline,” SNL. (Oct 17, 2016) [Subscription required]

Associated Press, “House Endorses Measure to Loan Colstrip Owner $10M Per Year,” US News & World Report. (Mar 24, 2017)

Tim Knauss, “NY nuclear subsidies kick in Saturday, but high-stakes legal challenge looms,” The Post-Standard. (Mar 27, 2017)

Tom Knox, “AEP CEO supports FirstEnergy’s bid for nuclear plant subsidies,” Columbus Business First. (Mar 7, 2017)

Andrew Coffman Smith, “NY Democrats seek to use assembly budget to block nuclear subsidy,” SNL. (Mar 24, 2017)

Exelon (EXC) Q4 2016 Results - Earnings Call Transcript, Seeking Alpha. (Feb 8, 2017)

Benjamin Inskeep, “What’s the Password? Nuclear Seeks Admission to the RPS Club,” EQ Research. (Apr 4, 2017)

Peter Maloney, “How Connecticut's nuclear bill could open a new front in the plant subsidy debate,” Utility Dive. (Apr 3, 2017)

Jonathan Crawford, “U.S. Consumers May Be $3.9 Billion 'Losers' From Nuclear Aid,” Bloomberg. (Mar 21, 2017)

Ryan Randazzo, “Navajo Nation officials want President Donald Trump to subsidize Kayenta Mine, power plant,” The Republic (Mar 30, 2017)

Catherine Traywick, “Battle to Save a Dying Arizona Coal Plant Goes to Washington,” Bloomberg. (Apr 12, 2017)

Karlee Weinmann, “Monopoly Un-Managed? Utility Tries to Dodge Oversight of Spendy Proposed Gas Plant,” ISLR. (Jan 26, 2017)

Mike Mullen, “Xcel Energy bullies its opponents with its MNopoly on power,” City Pages. (Mar 15, 2017)

Taylor Kuykendall, “Trump environmental order does little to change coal retirement plans,” SNL. (Mar 30, 2017)

Natasha Geiling, “Trump’s environmental assault met with immediate legal challenges,” Think Progress. (Mar 31, 2017)

Ben Casselman, “Trump’s Plan Won’t Reverse Coal’s Decline,” FiveThirtyEight. (Mar 28, 2017)

Annalee Armstrong, “With a stroke of the pen, Trump seeks to erase Obama's environmental legacy,” SNL. (Mar 27, 2017)

PTI, “Renewables to be over 60% of India's generation capacity: Piyush Goyal,” The Economic Times. (Mar 24, 2017)

46,000 MW OF Coal and Gas Based Power Capacity In India Is Stranded, says CEA,” EnergyInfraPost. (Mar 28, 2017)

Chris Martin and Chris Cooper, “How an American Tech Icon Bet on Nuclear -- and Lost,” Bloomberg. (Mar 29, 2017)

Peter Maloney, “Westinghouse bankruptcy could grind US nuclear sector to a halt,” Utility Dive. (Apr 12, 2017)

Steven Mufson, “Westinghouse files for bankruptcy, in a blow to nuclear power industry,” The Washington Post. (Mar 29, 2017)

Ethan Baron, “Faraday Future electric car company backs away from planned Vallejo factory,” Silicon Beat. (Mar 24, 2017)

Chris Ziegler, “Faraday Future 'breaks ground' on $1 billion Nevada factory,” The Verge.  (Apr 13, 2016)

Dawn McCarty, “Toshiba Board Approves Bankruptcy for Westinghouse, Nikkei Says,” Bloomberg. (Mar 28, 2017)

Nick Harmsen, “Lyon Group announces $1b battery and solar farm for South Australia's Riverland,” ABC News. (Mar 30, 2017)

Tom Kenning, “Lyon Group to build world’s largest solar-plus-storage project in South Australia,” PV-Tech. (Mar 30, 2017)