Trump admin considers plan to bail out coal, nuclear plants

Ismael LynchJun 04, 2018

President Donald Trump on Friday directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take "immediate steps" to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open, calling it a matter of national and economic security. Similarly, last year, Rick Perry, secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), formally proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission take "swift action to address threats to U.S. electrical grid resiliency" - a move that was opposed by many clean energy groups that claimed the request favored coal and nuclear generation. Not only did Trump campaign on a promise to revive the ailing coal industry, but administration officials allege keeping the plants online is necessary to deliverable reliable, always-on power capabilities in case of an emergency or even severe weather events.

Still, the White House issued a statement in response to news reports about the plan, saying the US electric grid is at risk because of coal and nuclear plant shutdowns - called "retirements" in the industry. But a draft memo circulated earlier this week indicates the administration might order electric grid operators to buy their energy from struggling coal and nuclear plants.

According to a report from Bloomberg, at a meeting today of the White House National Security Council, a 41-page draft memo was circulated that outlines the need for the USA grid to be "resilient and secure".

More will be revealed after the hearing on 1 June. The federal government has a lot of assets in the Pacific Northwest.

The Trump administration's claims of energy security for keeping coal and nuclear plants online is not supported by the facts, as multiple power networks, including PJM, one of the biggest United States independent systems, point to a recent extremely cold "bomb cyclone" weather event in the U.S. northeast that showed the regional grid operating efficiently despite coal power plant closures, cited by Ars Technica. Under a 2010 agreement, Portland General Electric plans to shut Oregon's only coal-fired power plant in Boardman in 2020.

Also supporting the Trump administration's decision was Sen.

Murray has been seeking emergency action to boost his industry since past year and has met with Trump to argue that federal help was needed to avert thousands of layoffs and maintain the reliability of the electric grid up and down the East Coast.

Calling the draft plan "unwarranted" and "ill-conceived", Tom Foley, senior vice president of policy and government affairs for the American Council on Renewable Energy, warns that "arbitrary market interventions deprive businesses of the certainty they need to invest in power plants of all types, harming not helping electric reliability".

"That is an outrageous ploy to drive American taxpayers to bail out coal and nuclear executives who've made unhealthy selections by investing in soiled and harmful power sources, and it will likely be soundly defeated each within the courts and within the court docket of public opinion".

Such a statement has been contradicted by several power grid operators, including PJM, one of the largest independent system operators in the country.

McKinley said the closure of additional power plants will weaken America's national security.

The administration says the transfer will forestall coal and nuclear energy vegetation vital to {the electrical} grid from closing, however opponents say the requirement is basically a bailout for a dying business that the president promised to save lots of and can trigger People' electrical energy payments to get dearer.

Coal company CEO Robert Murray of Murray Energy [MUYEY.UL], also called for Perry to use emergency powers to save at-risk coal plants.

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