Here's what we know so far about Rick Perry's fake power grid study – and it isn't good

Jim Marston

This post was updated on June 14, 2017.

You’re already well aware of the Trump administration’s blitzkrieg against America’s bedrock environmental laws. Now, get ready for Energy Secretary Rick Perry to weigh in.

Within days, the former Texas governor is expected to release the results from a 60-day “study” he commissioned to determine whether renewables policies and regulations have led to the premature retirement of coal or nuclear plants.

Like many others in the clean energy business, I’m concerned this so-called study is an attempt to cripple clean energy progress in favor of the administration’s broader pro-coal agenda. You don’t have to be a DOE rocket scientist to put the pieces together.

Here are five reasons Perry’s study serves a purpose other than to find facts:

1. Not how real studies are done

First off, 60 days is barely enough time to fill job vacancies in a new administration, much less sufficient to conduct a thorough analysis of America’s complex energy policies.

This study is not about evidence or science, but about reinforcing Trump’s attack against America’s rapidly growing clean energy economy – and possibly about undermining state renewable energy portfolios.

2. Grid reliability concerns a non-issue

Perry’s electric grid study has nothing to do with reliability of critical energy services. The “grid reliability” angle has been studied extensively by grid operators and government agencies around the country, and reliability has actually been strengthened with less coal and more efficiency and renewables.

Cleaner and more diverse energy sources such as wind, solar, demand response and natural gas are seamlessly taking coal’s place.

How? Remarkable advances in energy storage and management, sensors, smart meters and telecommunications have made the grid more flexible and nimble while maintaining reliability.

It’s telling that Perry used the same argument about grid reliability a decade ago when he tried to fast-track new coal plants in Texas. Of course, Texas went on to become the nation’s largest producer of wind energy – in spite of Perry.

3. Ex-industry lobbyist will lead study

Consider Perry’s staff at the DOE and what it says about the secretary’s agenda. It’s a who’s who of the fossil fuel industry lobby.

His Chief of Staff Brian McCormack, who will manage the grid reliability study, came to the DOE from the Edison Electric Institute – the lobby group for utilities and a fierce opponent of renewable energy.

4. National security “risk” a well-timed fable

Perry has argued, without any evidence, that some state policies that encourage fuels other than coal could be a national security risk and should therefore be studied. Scott Pruitt, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief, recently seconded this fable.

Suggesting that coal makes America safer may look like a clever tactic. The problem is, it just isn’t true.

This tack also represents a 180 for Perry and Pruitt who, until recently, served as top state officials who ferociously attacked the federal government, citing state sovereignty. My guess: McCormack will find a way to work national security into DOE’s grid study.

5. Study is part of a bigger, darker scheme

Today, there are more than 3 million clean energy jobs in America, more than twice the number of jobs in fossil fuel extraction and electricity generation.

Besides creating new jobs, cleaner energy will also result in fewer asthma attacks, fewer health problems for elderly Americans and a less polluted future – all of which will benefit our nation’s economy.

The Trump administration may look chaotic, especially this week. But its actions suggest it’s meticulously and unapologetically laying the groundwork for four years of pro-coal policy, of which Perry’s so-called study will undoubtedly be a building block.


Doesn't give a care about people, only his rich friends and other questionable ones. To heck with clear air or water or a good environment. Just a self-centered Trump yes man.

Sue Rollins
May 19, 2017 at 4:43 pm

Maybe that’s why Trumps team are selling are oil and gas , so we’ll have to buy oil from his pal Putin.

Jim Durand
August 1, 2018 at 7:18 pm

In reply to by Sue Rollins

Worker-owned alternative energy companies are what is needed.

May 19, 2017 at 7:33 pm

The cutting of funding for renewable energy and the increase in fossil fuel power generation is a great reason to begin buying solar panels, hydrogen generating plants, hydroelectric generators, and anything alternative energy minded! Those things are sure to be taxed out of existence whenever possible. Furthermore, we need to start a letter-writing, phone-call barrage on Congress and the White House, demanding that this assault on renewable energy be stopped!

I'm certain that there's going to be cutting of funding, fines and taxes, and laws passed against any kind of alternative energy sources or usage, at the state levels also! It won't be open for discussion, broadcast on the news, or widely understood... The media is going to be on task, I'd imagine, but this administration will likely hide what they're doing before long. Be vigilant, be vocal...

Matthew J Van Camp
May 21, 2017 at 10:21 am

If you integrate solar into individual building design, grids become obsolete.
So do power companies.

Robyn Blanpied
May 21, 2017 at 2:55 pm

You sure can see who is profiting from the continued use of fossil fuels. Why in God's name would anyone be against wind and solar power? An idiot, that's who.

Bruce McNeal
May 21, 2017 at 7:27 pm

This is ridiculous. Other countries are powering ahead with renewable and he and his bidding want to take us back to the 1950's. Not only is our country getting left behind as the rest of the world advances, renewables are the way to energy independence. Large, interconnected grid systems lead to expensive energy monopolies, while locally sourced renewable energy is less likely to be successfully hacked on a widespread basis. He is just another big energy shill.

Karen Busen
May 22, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Why are they always trying to go backwards instead of thinking about the air and how clean it is now. Rick Perry and Donald Trump are old guys and they don't care about the people. Only lining their pockets and there rich buddies' pockets, too.

Barbara Bethma…
May 23, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Thank you, Jim... Sober, informed, and useful.

maitland sharpe
May 23, 2017 at 5:44 pm

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