White House Whims Are Not Grounds for Emergency Coal, Nuke Plant Bailouts


President Donald Trump on Friday directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take "immediate steps" to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open, calling it a matter of national and economic security. A draft plan circulating in Washington would require power grid operators to buy electricity from struggling coal plants over the next two years to prevent them from shutting down.

The agency also is making plans to establish a "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve" with the aim of promoting the national defense and maximizing domestic energy supplies.

"Cleaner, cheaper power is abundant, and new energy technologies like wind, solar, and other distributed energy make the grid safer from attack". 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. 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.

So the Energy Department is hatching a new plan, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News, to force grid operators to buy electricity from coal and nuclear plants at risk of retirement, effectively keeping those failing power plants afloat.

The day before the announcement, Perry tweeted his support for coal.

After receiving hundreds of pages of comments ghostwritten by FirstEnergy, FERC ultimately shot down that rule in January, and Murray later blamed this decision for FirstEnergy's bankruptcy filing.

On the energy storage side, similarly, Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the Energy Storage Association, expresses fear that "any action that undermines market stability to support new entrants like energy storage - resources that enhance grid resilience and reduce costs to consumers - will erode opportunities to create a more reliable and resilient, efficient, sustainable, and affordable grid".

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.

Despite these setbacks, Trump's DOE and Murray seem undeterred, as the latest plans indicate. Not only did Trump campaign on a promise to revive the ailing coal industry, but administration officials allege keeping the plants online is necessary to deliverable reliable, always-on power capabilities in case of an emergency or even severe weather events.

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

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.

"It's high time someone realized the importance and the reliability of the grid".

The unusual move could have historic consequences for the energy industry, if successful.

"This would be the most outrageous scheme yet", said John Moore of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), according to the Washington Examiner.

Depending on the approach taken by the Trump administration, propping up coal and nuclear plants could cost the taxpayers anywhere from $311 million to $11.8 billion per year. "And the only security that will be protected is that of the companies who want a massive bailout".