Trump orders Perry to take 'immediate steps' to stop coal plant closures
Trump orders Perry to take 'immediate steps' to stop coal plant closures
Trump orders Perry to take 'immediate steps' to stop coal plant closures | TheHill
04 June, 2018, 19:42
Citing national security concerns, US President Donald Trump's administration is working on a fresh plan to subsidize coal and nuclear plants, a move critics say is unnecessary and will drive up energy costs.
"The security of our homeland is inextricably tied to the security of our energy supply", he said.
The draft memo laying out the directive doesn't give a specific amount operators would have to spend but says it will be enough to keep the facilities open for the next two years, saying that USA national security "relies on a robust US domestic industrial base, of which the coal, nuclear, and oil and natural gas industries are critical strategic components". "The U.S. military is increasingly turning to solar, not coal, to ensure resilience at military bases".
Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have been pushing campaigns to phase out coal as part of the USA energy grid and they say that even a "bailout" will not keep coal and nuclear plants open as the global market focuses more on natural gas and renewable energy sources. 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 draft plan would require power grid operators to buy electricity from struggling plants over the next two years to prevent more from shutting down.
DOE did not respond to requests for comment.
"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.
The memo envisions requiring electricity purchases from coal and nuclear sources for a two-year period, which the Energy Department would use to study shortcomings in the USA electricity system.
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"As it has done time and time again over the years, coal proved to be exactly what we needed to power the country, demonstrating its importance in keeping the lights on when other resources were unavailable", she said. According to the memo, the planned action is a "prudent stop-gap measure" while the department addresses the nation's "grid security challenges".
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The Defense Production Act gives the president powers to assure the nation can produce whatever resources are necessary in the time of national need. "However, unprecedented government intervention in the energy markets to support high-cost generation will put achieving that vision in jeopardy and hurt customers by taking more money out of their pockets". Nationwide, BNEF said, two dozen nuclear plants - representing almost 33 gigawatts - are either scheduled to close or probably won't make money through 2021.
The day before the announcement, Perry tweeted his support for coal.
"Emboldened by President Trump's promises to 'save the coal industry, ' conservatives who have long argued against subsidies for solar and wind power have a newfound desire for the federal government to pick winners in energy systems, as a growing number of coal plants become uneconomic and close down".
Trump administration officials have contemplated action for more than a year. 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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