Trump orders 'immediate steps' to boost coal, nuclear plants

Report: Department of Energy recommends bail out of failing coal plants

The administration says the move will prevent coal and nuclear power plants critical to the electrical grid from closing, but opponents say the requirement is essentially a bailout for a dying industry that the president promised to save and will cause Americans' electricity bills to get more expensive.

The Trump administration reportedly has plans in the works to direct US grid operators to purchase power from struggling coal and nuclear facilities - a move immediately condemned by several energy industry associations and clean energy groups.

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.

According to an analysis from the Sierra Club, the draft plan would exploit Section 202 (c) of the Federal Power Act and the Cold War-era Defense Production Act (DPA) to force American families and businesses to bail out uneconomic coal and nuclear plants.

The memo allegedly wrote that "Too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement".

As renewable energy and natural gas has become very low-priced, some coal and nuclear plants can no longer compete economically and are retiring early unless heavy-handed intervention, such as what was just proposed by the Administration, comes to the "rescue".

"Any federal intervention in the market to order customers to buy electricity from specific power plants would be damaging to the markets and therefore costly to consumers", that group PJM Interconnection said in a statement. Nationwide, BNEF said, two dozen nuclear plants - representing almost 33 gigawatts - are either scheduled to close or probably won't make money through 2021.

"There is no need for any such drastic action", the company said. The two-year time-frame would also allow time for this ridiculous action to be fully implemented while Trump is still in office, making good on his campaign promise to revive the ailing and half-dead coal industry in this country. No one from the Trump administration has confirmed to NPR that the draft is an official document.

By January, the commission had rejected Perry's request, the Times reported.

"Energy Secretary Perry is being forced to issue another unnecessary and unprecedented emergency order to favor coal and nuclear over more economic electricity suppliers, including renewables". One independent group that manages the electricity grid that serves more than 65 million people said that it could be bad for consumers if the federal government intervenes in the market.

Representatives of FirstEnergy did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment. Tapping two statutes simultaneously also could give the administration more "legal room", Peskoe said.

The draft plan calls for the Energy Department to exercise emergency authority under a pair of federal laws typically reserved for wars or natural disasters. "The Defense Production Act grants the president the authority to ensure that the nation's domestic industrial base is capable of providing the essential materials and resources needed to defend our nation and protect our sovereignty, and it recognizes energy production and critical infrastructure as strategic and crucial to that goal".

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