Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Trump Administration Mulls New Plan to Help Ailing Coal, Nuke Plants - Bloomberg

Posted by June 1, 2018

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Trump administration officials are considering requiring grid operators to buy electricity from ailing nuclear and coal-fired power plants to keep them from being shuttered, according to a Bloomberg news report on Friday that cited a draft memo.

If adopted, the move would mark an unprecedented intervention in power markets, and would serve the administration's goal of bolstering America's struggling coal and nuclear industries that have been shrinking amid competition from natural gas, solar and wind power.

Under the plan, the U.S. Department of Energy would exercise emergency authority under a pair of federal laws to direct the operators to buy from coal and nuclear facilities, and could also create a so-called "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve," according to the report.

"Federal action is necessary to stop the further premature retirements of fuel-secure generation capacity," the 41-page draft memo said, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg said the document, dated May 29, was circulated before a National Security Council meeting on the subject on Friday.

Department of Energy spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes did not respond to requests for comment. Reuters has not independently verified the report.

The idea comes after federal energy regulators rejected a proposal late last year from Energy Secretary Rick Perry to subsidize nuclear and coal plants for providing 'resilience' to the grid.

The administration said it was concerned the retirement of old coal and nuclear plants could put U.S. power supplies at risk because - unlike solar, wind, and natural gas power facilities - coal and nuclear generators can store fuel on site.

The drilling industry, renewable energy companies, and many grid operators reject the idea that coal and nuclear power plant closures are undermining U.S. electricity reliability and resiliency, saying gas, solar and wind have proven dependable.

Writing by Richard Valdmanis

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