Trump Orders a Lifeline for Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants

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"Such powers have been invoked in very limited instances", according to Rabeha Kamaluddin, energy lawyer with Dorsey & Whitney, "and in those instances, "emergencies" have pertained to natural disasters, hurricanes, and major blackouts; events that hit at the core of grid reliability and power supply".

Calling the draft plan "unwarranted" and "ill-conceived", Tom Foley, senior vice president of policy and government affairs for the American Council on Renewable Energy, warns that "arbitrary market interventions deprive businesses of the certainty they need to invest in power plants of all types, harming not helping electric reliability".

Countering global efforts to stem the rise of global warming and increase the use of sustainable energies, Trump and his advisors are dusting off a 20th-century national security act in another attempt to bolster flagging coal and nuclear power generating industries in the US.

Sanders added that "impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities" pose a risk to national security, which prompted Friday's actions.

The directive comes as the Trump administration considers a plan to order grid operators to buy electricity from coal and nuclear plants to keep them open.


According to a report from Bloomberg, at a meeting today of the White House National Security Council, a 41-page draft memo was circulated that outlines the need for the US grid to be "resilient and secure".

Sanders said Trump had ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prepare "immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources".

The leaked document lays out "a temporary stop-gap measure" in which DOE would exercise "its DPA and FPA authority by directing system operators, for a period of 24 months, to purchase or arrange the purchase of electric energy or electric generation capacity from a designated list of subject generation facilities (SGFs) sufficient to forestall any further actions toward retirement during the pendency of DOE's order".

"The security of our homeland is inextricably tied to the security of our energy supply", he said.

The document has been marked as a "draft", the report states. "I am encouraged by the president's actions to protect our nation from these plant closures and ensure coal power is available to address future weather, market, and cybersecurity challenges". A FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary requested immediate intervention from Perry's agency in late March.


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".

There are now only two nuclear reactors under construction in the United States, in addition to the 99 in service. "The reported proposal would be a misapplication of emergency powers; there's certainly no credible justification to force American taxpayers to bail out uneconomic power plants".

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written a letter to the Prime Minister, seeking his intervention to ensure that CIL will offer additional railway rakes for the transportation of coal to thermal power plants in the Delhi region, as the Indian capital is facing acute shortage of power as a result of lower coal stock.

"It's about the national security of our country".

For more than a year, Murray, CEO of the nation's biggest underground mining company, Murray Energy, has been pleading directly with President Donald Trump and Secretary Perry to bail out coal plants that have been unable to compete with natural gas and renewables and risk closing. Even natural gas supplies can be disrupted by supply-line breakdowns, they suggest.


An increasing number of coal and nuclear plants have gone under in recent years while a cheaper and cleaner alternative, natural gas, has become more mainstream.

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