In addition to the attacks on PURPA, lower prices and the threat to conventional generation is leading grid operators to implement policies that favor gas, coal and nuclear resources, and may be damaging to wind and solar economics.
The most blatant of these policies are zero emissions credits (ZECs), a form of bailout for aging nuclear power plants that attempts to draw an association with renewable energy credits. ZECs have been implemented in New York and Illinois, and are being considered by other states including Connecticut that host nuclear power plants which are struggling in the environment of low wholesale prices.
In Illinois, the creation of ZECs appears to have been aided by a deal struck between the solar and the nuclear industries, as part of a bill that fixed broken structures in the state’s renewable energy mandate. However, gas-heavy IPPs have sued to stop ZECs, and they are joined by other observers in arguing that this policy distorts wholesale market mechanisms.