Picking Energy Winners and Losers No Job for Government

Energy Alliance


A proposed FERC rule to protect coal and nuclear power is a huge mistake. Government has no business picking energy winners and losers. Let the market work!

Abundant, affordable energy is the foundation of modern prosperity. One of the most pernicious things that the Obama administration did was to interfere with the availability of affordable energy, lavishing subsidies and regulatory support on any trendy, inefficient and expensive technology or energy source that could be branded as “renewable.” The Obama administration’s government distortions raised costs for consumers and destroyed jobs in industries that did not gain government favor in an attempt to “finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy.” This picking of energy winners and losers is no way to manage competitive markets in a free society.

energy winners and losers

The American Energy Alliance has not been alone in recognizing the baleful effects of government favoritism. Many clear-eyed politicians have also understood the negative impacts of excessive government intervention in energy markets.

In 2011, then Governor Perry exhorted voters to elect him president so that he could “level the playing field for all energy producers, removing Obama’s practice of picking winners and losers.”

In 2014, some 55 House Republicans inveighed against a government subsidy which “has not only cost taxpayers billions, but has caused significant price distortions in wholesale electricity markets.”

In 2015, Rep. Alex Mooney spoke it plainly: “The government shouldn’t pick the winners and losers. What I object to is the government interfering in the market.”

In 2016, leaning on his experience as a state utility regulator, Rep. Kevin Cramer explained that “when ratepayers are subsidizing with an additional cost because of a mandate, that’s different. That’s punishing the ratepayer.”

This past summer, Rep. Keith Rothfus reminded us “the federal government’s role isn’t to pick winners and losers.”

Just a few weeks ago, Senator Shelley Moore Capito indicted the Obama administration for issuing “heavy-handed regulations to pick winners and losers among energy industries.”

Many of the companies that were targeted for harm by the Obama administration likewise stood with us and these political leaders against federal government distortions in energy markets.

FirstEnergy, one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the country, saw things clearly, noting “measures that restrict customer shopping or subsidize one electric generator over another are throw-backs to monopoly regulation. Such efforts that pick ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in the energy market would create obstacles to private investment in generation and increase prices for customers.”

Earlier this year, the CEO of Murray Energy, correctly noted that under the Obama administration there was not a level playing field “the government has been picking winners and losers.”

Exelon, largest utility in the Fortune 500, has made clear its preference for outcomes based on free markets, “rather than through the government picking technology winners and losers,” and proudly declared itself “anti-subsidy.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

On September 29th, the Trump administration Department of Energy released a notice of proposed rulemaking proposing a rule for action by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This proposed rulemaking called for FERC to intervene in electricity markets to guarantee cost recovery for certain classes of electricity generation units. As we have stated before, we agree that baseload power generation is not adequately valued.

We also believe FERC can play a limited role in addressing this legitimate concern. The Perry proposal, in contrast, would: pick energy winners and losers, cause significant price distortions in wholesale electricity markets, constitute government interference in markets, punish ratepayers, create obstacles to private investment in generation, and increase prices for customers.

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2 thoughts on “Picking Energy Winners and Losers No Job for Government

    • or any other form of energy production! Let folks pay the true cost! Then they can decide which they prefer, rather than having to accept the dictates of a few!

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