President Trump admin considers plan to bail out coal, nuclear plants

Michael Brochstein via ZUMA

"As the world's largest producer and refiner of oil and natural gas, which today is the number one source of U.S. electricity, our nation is on track to achieve the President's vision for energy dominance", Snitchler says.

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.

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

"Unfortunately, impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities are leading to a rapid depletion of a critical part of our Nation's energy mix, and impacting the resilience of our power grid", Sanders said in a statement.

The idea of declaring an emergency under the Defense Production Act of 1950 (used by President Harry Truman for the steel industry) and section 202 of the Federal Power Act has been promoted by the chief executives of the coal mining firm Murray Energy and OH utility First Energy, both of whom have contributed heavily to President Trump's political activities.

A "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve" would also be created under the order "to promote the national defense and maximize domestic energy supplies", the draft memo said.

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.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wears a coal miner's hat whereas addressing his supporters throughout a rally on the Charleston Civic Heart on Could 5, 2016 in Charleston, WVa. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va.

Coal and nuclear are considered "baseload" fuels, meaning they can supply a consistent amount of power for long periods of time, with abundant fuel stored at plants where it will be turned into electricity. But the agency said that most of the coal powered plants that closed were "relatively old and small". "Doing so will be vital to our state's economy and to our nation's viability, security, and independence". It is proposed that the Energy Department would apply emergency authority under federal laws in order to navigate grid operators into purchasing power generation from ailing plants.

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) summit in April 2018.

Environmental groups decried the support for coal over cleaner energy sources, while energy industry groups warned that it could raise prices. "However, unprecedented government intervention in the energy markets to support high-cost generation will put achieving that vision in jeopardy and hurt customers by taking more money out of their pockets".

But on Friday, the White House said it was working on a new plan. Critics also suggested Trump has political motivations for propping up outmoded technologies, because coal company executives have been among his big financial backers.

Some coal and power companies have lobbied the administration to invoke the measure, known as a 202 (c), and Trump has picked up on the term, telling coal miners on a recent trip to West Virginia that "we'll be looking at that 202".

"I applaud President Trump's administration for its serious consideration as to the national security implications of the energy grid crisis, particularly the importance of eastern coal".

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