U.S. President Donald Trump has directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take emergency steps to keep coal and nuclear power plants running, the White House said Friday, in what would amount to an unprecedented intervention in U.S. power markets. After the Energy Department conducted a reliability study past year, Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed a rule that would have compensated coal and nuclear plants for their ability to store months' worth of fuel on site.
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 White House is considering a measure that would require electrical grid operators to purchase electricity from coal and nuclear plants that are at risk of going offline, according to a draft memo circulated before the Department of Energy, viewed by Bloomberg. The memo added that "federal action is necessary to stop the further premature retirements of fuel-secure generation capacity".
"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.More news: [H]ardOCP: Canon Sells Its Last Film Camera
The Trump administration may soon take action to try to save the nation's struggling coal and nuclear plants. Both the USA coal and nuclear power industries have been shrinking for years, under pressure from cheaper natural gas along with advances in solar and wind energy. 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 defense and maximize domestic energy supplies".
Murray has been seeking emergency action to boost his industry since previous year and has met with Trump to argue that federal help was needed to avert thousands of layoffs and maintain the reliability of the electric grid up and down the East Coast.
The White House-sponsored DoE memo reportedly states that "too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement", while declaring that the replacement of coal and nuclear plants by natural gas and renewable power in the U.S. is not secure.
Trump campaigned on the promise that he would revive the coal industry.More news: Experts told why the Samsung Galaxy X should not be flexible
By January, the commission had rejected Perry's request, the Times reported.
Opponents of the new plan contend the intervention is a solution in search of a problem and argue there are other ways to back up the grid. A coalition of natural gas and renewable power advocates told Perry that "power plant retirements are a normal, healthy feature of electricity markets", and therefore there is no emergency that would justify Energy Department action.
"Uneconomic, dirty coal plants retiring does not represent a national security risk", Environmental Defense Fund director of federal energy policy and senior attorney Michael Panfil wrote on his blog.More news: With no takers, Air India’s divestment plan nosedives