Trump Orders a Lifeline for Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants

Cristina Cross
June 4, 2018

"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".

A statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders did not say specifically what steps the administration would take but said 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".

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 US reaches a tipping point in the loss of essential, secure electric generation resources.

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

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 time, the DOE would conduct a study of vulnerabilities in the USA power grid system.

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Teams just like the American Coalition for Clear Coal Electrical energy have advised the Vitality Division that retiring coal services may threaten {the electrical} grid.

Environmental groups, natural gas producers and Republicans and Democrats who have pushed for greater competition in electricity markets all condemned the latest signal that the administration might be moving closer to imposing the Energy Department's plan. Nuclear and coal-fired power plants are struggling to compete against cheap natural gas and renewable electricity.

American power generators are expected to retire - or announce the retirements of - 16,200 megawatts of coal-fired and 550 megawatts of nuclear plant capacity this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Power lines in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, lead away from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant (C rear) in Vernon, Vermont August 27, 2013. "This finality is why it is critically important to preserve the fuel security offered by nuclear plants under threat of premature closure", Korsnick said. It relies on authorities given to the executive branch in the Defense Production Act of 1950 and the Federal Power Act. 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". "The Trump administration is continuing to try to fulfill the president's campaign promise to his coal supporters to bail them out", says John Moore, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. And it is the biggest dumb move by this administration I have seen, at least since yesterday - when Trump effectively made all our allies angry with his ridiculous trade tariffs.

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. Farrell called the draft plan "a misapplication of emergency powers" and said, "There's certainly no credible justification to force American taxpayers to bailout uneconomic power plants". That attempt was rightfully denied by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which determined that market rates and processes are indeed sufficient to meet national energy demand.

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