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

Trump’s Newest Plan To Save Coal – Blatantly Rigging the Markets

Trump’s Newest Plan To Save Coal – Blatantly Rigging the Markets tweet

Todd Snitchler, market development director at the American Petroleum Institute, said: "The administration's draft plan to provide government assistance to those coal and nuclear plants that are struggling to be profitable under the guise of national security would be unprecedented and misguided". "The security of our homeland is inextricably tied to the security of our energy supply".

MEMO POINTS TO DOE'S NATIONAL SECURITY RESPONSIBILITIESIn defense of prompt, alternative action by the department, the draft memo speaks of DOE's position on the NSC and its responsibility, under statute and executive order, to respond to energy supply disruptions and any threats to grid reliability and resilience.

The plan cuts to the heart of a debate over the reliability and resiliency of a rapidly evolving US electricity grid.

Both the US 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 recent "bomb cyclone" system of extremely cold weather in the northeast this winter showed off that the grid could operate well despite coal retirements. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the memo.

While many of President Trump's top donors advocate for the support of struggling coal-fired power plants, it is unclear as to whether or not Trump has signed off on the plan.

DOE did not respond to requests for comment.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a major coal-mining state, on Friday praised Trump for carrying out what he said was his idea: "I am glad President Trump and his Administration are considering my idea to use the Defense Production Act to save coal-fired power plants with emissions controls and protect our national security", Manchin said.

Colstrip's two oldest units, 1 and 2, are slated to shut down by 2022 as part of a settlement agreement between the plant's owners and utility regulators in Washington state, where Colstrip sells most of its power. This intervention would last for two years, allowing time for a federal study of vulnerabilities in the US energy delivery and grid system.

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Under a state law passed in 2016, utilities in OR are not allowed to bring coal-fired power into their customers' energy mix past 2035. According to the memo, the planned action is a "prudent stop-gap measure" while the department addresses the nation's "grid security challenges".

The Energy Department would be relying partly on the Federal Power Act - the so-called Section 202 authority - that lets the administration order guaranteed profits for power plants that can store large amounts of fuel on site.

The Defense Production Act gives the president powers to assure the nation can produce whatever resources are necessary in the time of national need.

A leaked internal memo suggests the move would involve "drastic government intervention in America's energy markets", the New York Times reported.

The day before the announcement, Perry tweeted his support for coal. 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. In a statement Friday, the grid operator argued that "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".

"President Trump has directed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations", Sanders added.

After receiving hundreds of pages of comments ghostwritten by FirstEnergy, FERC ultimately shot down that rule in January, and Murray later blamed this decision for FirstEnergy's bankruptcy filing.

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