September 29, 2021

Manchin: 'Makes No Sense To Take Tools Out Of The Toolbox' Amid Transition To Cleaner Energy Future

Manchin warns about the need to protect reliability and affordability in transitioning electric sector

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.
To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held an oversight hearing on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). During the hearing, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, and FERC Commissioner Mark Christie raised concerns about maintaining the affordability and reliability of electric service for West Virginians amid the nation’s transition to a cleaner energy future.

“Having reliable power is not a nice-to-have for a superpower economy. We have to get this right. But we have to balance the cost of reliability and resilience with affordability because affordability is also not optional. In my view the only way to do it without sacrificing reliability and affordability is with policies that spur innovation, not elimination. It makes no sense to take tools out of the toolbox because we know that none of these energy resources are 100% immune to weather disruptions, whether that be freezing wind turbines, disruptions to our natural gas production and delivery systems, or frozen coal stockpiles – all of which we saw happen last winter. We have to maintain a diverse and reliable energy mix with the technologies necessary to reduce emissions,” said Chairman Manchin.

“West Virginia has a generating fleet that is 90% coal. If West Virginia is forced, during the transition we are going through, to prematurely retire that entire fleet, you’ll have a reliability problem and you’ll have a cost problem because that fleet has to be replaced with replacement power and West Virginian consumers have to pay for that… If you shut them down, West Virginians are going to be paying for them for years to come even though they’re not operating. As you mentioned Mr. Chairman, we are going through a transition to a lower carbon future and everyone wants to get there. But as we go through this transition it is absolutely essential that reliability not be compromised and that consumers not be exploited,” said Commissioner Christie.

Chairman Manchin also stressed to the commissioners the need to quickly improve the country’s permitting process for pipelines, which is critical to moving natural gas to market safely and efficiently.

“People are concerned about getting product to market. Getting [permits for] gas pipelines has been a tremendous challenge. They believe that FERC has not been very clear in the past on how they go about this process, [letting them] know upfront what to expect, and making sure they don’t run into one thing after another that’s added on after they make their request for their permit. I hope you’re getting your act together on that, getting clarity to what you expect, or just reject them up front,” Chairman Manchin said.

The hearing featured testimony from the four current sitting FERC commissioners. To read their testimony click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.