Trump Orders 'Immediate Steps' To Save Coal And Nuclear Power Plants

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 Energy Department would also establish a "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve".

The plan would exempt power plants from obeying a host of environmental laws and spend billions to keep coal-fired plants open.

In a draft memo to be circulated on Friday, the Department of Energy (DOE) argues in favor of using a wartime rule called the Defense Production Act to bail out failing coal and nuclear plants, according to Bloomberg, which obtained a copy of the memo.

Energy Department representatives did not respond to an emailed request for comment. Both the USA coal and nuclear power industries have been shrinking for years, under pressure from cheaper natural gas along with advances in solar and wind energy.

The administration has said it is concerned the retirement of old coal and nuclear plants could put USA power supplies at risk because - unlike solar, wind, and natural gas power facilities - coal and nuclear generators can store fuel on site.

DOE's planned intervention into the energy market would last for two years, allowing for a federal study of vulnerabilities in the US energy delivery and power grid, according to Bloomberg. That estimate was provided by Robbie Orvis, director of energy policy design at Energy Innovation, according to the Times.

The Trump administration has been preparing to invoke emergency powers granted under Cold War-era legislation to order regional grid operators to buy electricity from ailing coal and nuclear power plants.

The Trump administration may soon take action to try to save the nation's struggling coal and nuclear plants.

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E&E News - an online energy-focused media outlet - in April reported that the DPA was being studied as a tool to provide Trump with sweeping powers to help any industry he deemed crucial to national defense. Nationwide, BNEF said, two dozen nuclear plants - representing almost 33 gigawatts - are either scheduled to close or probably won't make money through 2021.

"Americans should not have to pay for dirty, uneconomic coal plants that pollute our environment and make people sick - especially when there are cleaner, more affordable energy options available", Panfil said.

Trump administration officials have contemplated action for more than a year.

Perry in September asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider "guaranteeing financial returns" for power plants able to "stockpile" 90 days worth of fuel on site.

Earlier this year, east coast grid operator PJM, which serves 65 million customers, published an analysis of recently announced planned deactivations of certain nuclear plants and determined that there was no immediate threat to system reliability.

Opponents of the new plan contend the intervention is a solution in search of a problem and argue there are other ways to back up the grid. The company issued a statement that its grid is reliable and federal intervention "would be damaging to the markets and therefore costly to consumers" by raising electricity prices.

Representatives of FirstEnergy did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

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