Published: Mon, June 04, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Trump Orders a Lifeline for Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants

Trump Orders a Lifeline for Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants

Since 2011, he has covered energy and environment for the Allegheny Front, a public radio environmental news show in Western Pennsylvania.

The memo added that "federal action is necessary to stop the further premature retirements of fuel-secure generation capacity".

Trump administration officials are making plans to order grid operators to buy electricity from struggling coal and nuclear plants in an effort to extend their life, a move that could represent an unprecedented intervention into USA energy markets.

DOE did not respond to requests for comment.

The proposal argues for action, stating that the decommissioning of coal-fired power plants must be managed, citing national security reasons.

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Those reviews followed FERC's rejection of Perry's notice of proposed rulemaking that directed the commission to put market rules in place that would have guaranteed full cost recovery and a return on investment for generators that maintain 90-day on-site fuel supplies. That proceeding is ongoing.

"We support all efforts to ensure the security of our nation's electric power supply, which is critical to the reliability of our electric power grids, to low-priced electricity and to our national defense", Murray said Friday in a statement. In late March, FirstEnergy's (FE.N) FirstEnergy Solutions [FE.UL] unit - which runs coal and nuclear power units - called on the US energy secretary to use the emergency powers to lift the sectors.

There are now only two nuclear reactors under construction in the United States, in addition to the 99 in service.

One other coalition of power business teams representing the oil, pure fuel, photo voltaic, and wind industries issued joint statements saying the administration's plan is "misguided", "unwarranted", and "an train in crony capitalism".

The Trump administration is moving to embrace two rarely used authorities under federal law to take the action, after weighing a broad array of strategies for preserving coal and nuclear power plants. "Above all, the subsidy would be a major victory for First Energy as it negotiates with bondholders over the value of coal and nuclear plants owned by its bankrupt First Energy Solutions subsidiary".

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McKinley said the closure of additional power plants will weaken America's national security.

According to Bloomberg, the move would signal an unprecedented intervention in the USA energy industry.

A common argument among opponents is that coal and nuclear units are not infallible during stresses on the system, and that transmission and distribution issues are more often the culprit when resilience issues arise, not generation or fuel supply concerns.

The Natural Gas Supply Association said the stopgap measure laid out in the draft memo was "a awful idea on multiple levels". In bankruptcy documents, the company revealed its Bruce Mansfield plant, in Shippingport, Pa., lost $90 million in 2017 alone, and is projected to lose $104 million this year.

Wiggins said the group expected to mount a "significant legal challenge" if the effort moved forward. The plan would direct regional transmission operators to buy power from coal and nuclear plants for two years to ensure grid reliability, "promote the national defence and maximize domestic energy supplies". That plea followed the Akron, Ohio-based company's announcement to shut three nuclear power plants that feed the grid operated by PJM Interconnection LLC, the largest in the country.

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"The coal and nuclear plants that have announced their retirement have been rejected by utilities, consumers and the market for being too dirty and too expensive, as they are being rapidly replaced with cleaner sources - meaning Trump's order would flout public opinion, the market and, likely, the law", the Sierra Club concludes.

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