Department of Energy recommends bail out of failing coal plants

Rick Perry and Ryan Zinke at 2018 CPAC

In a draft memo to be circulated on Friday, the Department of Energy (DOE) argues in favor of using a wartime rule called the Defense Production Act to bail out failing coal and nuclear plants, according to Bloomberg, which obtained a copy of the memo.

The Energy Department would also establish a "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve".

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. Twenty-five coal plants have closed since he took office, as they face competition from natural gas, wind and solar power, the Times reported. As nuclear and coal plants are decommissioned, regulators have been grappling with how to ensure that the nation's power system can withstand extreme weather events and cyber-attacks.

Although the memo describes a planned Energy Department directive, there was no indication President Donald Trump had signed off on the action nor when any order might be issued.

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.

The plan would exempt power plants from obeying a host of environmental laws and spend billions to keep coal-fired plants open.


A major grid operator, PJM Interconnection, said in a statement that the power system is more reliable than ever and federal intervention isn't needed. That estimate was provided by Robbie Orvis, director of energy policy design at Energy Innovation, according to the Times. And on April 2, 2018, First Energy appealed for emergency help after a subsidiary containing ailing power plants filed for bankruptcy protection. Miller is a lobbyist for FirstEnergy Solutions, a bankrupt power company that relies on coal and nuclear energy to produce electricity.

"Unprecedented government intervention in the energy markets to support high-cost generation will hurt customers by taking more money out of their pockets rather than letting people keep more of what they earn", said Todd Snitchler of the American Petroleum Institute, the top lobbying group for the oil and gas industry. 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 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.

One likely plan, laid out in a 41-page draft memorandum posted online by Bloomberg News and Utility Dive, would favor certain power plants in the name of national security. No one from the Trump administration has confirmed to NPR that the draft is an official document. Trump has directed Perry "to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations".

As Trump's fossil-fuel energy mouthpiece, Perry earlier commissioned a study to identify regulatory causes for coal-plant closures, but no regulations were found; instead, cheap natural gas was observed to be responsible for widespread industry decline.

Representatives of FirstEnergy did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

"Earthjustice will continue to fight the Trump Administration's destructive and illegal coal bailouts every with every legal tool available". Tapping two statutes simultaneously also could give the administration more "legal room", Peskoe said.

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