White House Whims Are Not Grounds for Emergency Coal, Nuke Plant Bailouts

Trump administration planning to command grid operators to buy coal from sagging plants

Trump administration planning to command grid operators to buy coal from sagging plants

The Department of Energy proposal would require grid operators to purchase electricity from a designated list of coal and nuclear plants over the course of two years.

The idea of declaring an emergency under the Defense Production Act of 1950 (used by President Harry Truman for the steel industry) and section 202 of the Federal Power Act has been promoted by the chief executives of the coal mining firm Murray Energy and OH utility First Energy, both of whom have contributed heavily to President Trump's political activities.

"Too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement", the 41-page memo reads.

The Energy Department action, if ordered, would represent an unprecedented intervention into USA energy markets. One impartial group that manages the electrical energy grid that serves greater than 65 million individuals stated that it might be unhealthy for shoppers if the federal authorities intervenes out there.

The department's intervention is meant to buy time for a two-year study of vulnerabilities in the American energy delivery system - from power plants that provide electricity to the natural gas pipelines that supply them.

Murray also puzzled that he couldn't figure out why this had not yet been done, writing: "In Youngstown, Ohio, nine days ago, after my personally speaking with President Trump, he turned to Energy Secretary Rick Perry and said three (3) times, 'I want this done'".

As Bloomberg noted, there is no guarantee the president would sign off on the directive, but the White House did issue a statement on Friday saying it was weighing different options to keep America's energy grid "strong".

"The only risk here is to Trump's campaign promise to bail out very expensive polluting coal and aging nuclear plants, which will cause our electric bills to skyrocket", Moore said.

In keeping with this request, last September, Perry called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to fast-track a multi-billion dollar proposed "grid resiliency" rule that would have required utility customers to buy above-market rate electricity from otherwise uncompetitive coal and nuclear plants for the stated goal of preserving grid reliability - despite his own agency's finding that preventing these retirements wouldn't really do much for the grid.

The memo envisions requiring electricity purchases from coal and nuclear sources for a two-year period, which the Energy Department would use to study shortcomings in the US electricity system.

Some coal and power companies have lobbied the administration to invoke the measure, known as a 202 (c), and Trump has picked up on the term, telling coal miners on a recent trip to West Virginia that "we'll be looking at that 202".

President Donald Trump has promised, time and time again, to bring back coal.

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.

The draft memo from DOE takes the stance that while renewable energy and natural gas have their share of benefits, increased reliance on them "comes at the expense of fuel security and resilience", which the document defines as the grid's ability to withstand and recover from major disruptions, be it adversarial attacks or natural disasters.

"Arbitrary market interventions of this sort have no place in the electricity structure that has kept American electric power reliable and affordable", Wetstone says. Some of Trump's biggest donors - including coal executive and CEO of Murray Energy, Bob Murray - have also pushed for the move.

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