President Trump Orders Help For Coal And Nuclear Plants
President Trump Orders Help For Coal And Nuclear Plants
White House Whims Are Not Grounds for Emergency Coal, Nuke Plant Bailouts
04 June, 2018, 09:57
"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", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says in the statement.
"President Trump believes in total energy independence and dominance, and that keeping America's energy grid and infrastructure strong and secure protects our national security, public safety and economy from intentional attacks and natural disasters".
Trump administration officials are considering requiring grid operators to buy electricity from ailing nuclear and coal-fired power plants to keep them from being shuttered, according to a Bloomberg news report on Friday that cited a draft memo.
Over dozens of pages, the memo makes the case for action, arguing that the decommissioning of power plants must be managed for national security reasons and that federal intervention is necessary before the USA reaches a tipping point in the loss of essential, secure electric generation resources.
"Sadly, impending retirements of fuel-secure energy services are resulting in a fast depletion of a vital a part of our Nation's power combine, and impacting the resilience of our energy grid", Sanders stated in an announcement.
"Too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement", only to be replaced by less-secure, less-resilient natural gas and renewable power sources, the memo said.
A "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve" would also be created under the order "to promote the national defense and maximize domestic energy supplies", the draft memo said. During that two year period, the government would also conduct a study into vulnerabilities in the USA grid system. Under a 2010 agreement, Portland General Electric plans to shut Oregon's only coal-fired power plant in Boardman in 2020.
Groups like the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity have told the Energy Department that retiring coal facilities could threaten the electrical grid.
The National Mining Association says in a statement that it has not received details of the plan from the Department of Energy. Under the Federal Power Act, Section 202 (c) allows the DOE secretary to issue an "emergency run order" for use in only the most extreme circumstances, such as an act of war or severe grid impairment. "This needlessly raises costs for consumers and merely shifts the risk of premature retirement to newer, more efficient power plants that compete with coal and nuclear". Nationwide, BNEF said, two dozen nuclear plants - representing almost 33 gigawatts - are either scheduled to close or probably won't make money through 2021.
Michael Panfil, director of federal energy policy for the Environmental Defence Fund, called Trump's directive "an unprecedented, illegal government handout" to the coal and nuclear industries and vowed to fight the order in court.
The action by the Energy Department would represent an unprecedented intervention into USA energy markets. The move would be one of the most direct efforts by Trump to make good on campaign promises to revive the nation's shrinking coal industry.
According to another energy association, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), the plan is "an exercise in crony capitalism taken exclusively for the benefit of a bankrupt power plant owner and its coal supplier", says Malcolm Woolf, AEE's senior vice president of policy.
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.
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