Trump orders ‘immediate steps’ to boost coal, nuclear plants

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

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". "The security of our homeland is inextricably tied to the security of our energy supply".

Greg Wetstone, chief executive of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said: " At the end of the day, the transparent guise of a national security emergency does not pass the red-face test as a justification for this action, or the increase it will cause in electricity costs for American consumers and businesses".

The plan cuts to the heart of a debate over the reliability and resiliency of a rapidly evolving USA electricity grid.

They noted that the coal and nuclear power plants that would benefit have failed to compete against natural gas, solar and wind.

E&E News - an online energy-focused media outlet - in April reported that the DPA was being studied as a tool to provide Trump with sweeping powers to help any industry he deemed crucial to national defense. The document, dated May 29 and distributed Thursday, is marked as a "draft", which is "not for further distribution", and could be used by administration officials to justify the intervention. Joe Manchin (D-WV) urging the president to use federal emergency powers to prevent the closure of coal and nuclear power plants.

The Trump administration's claims of energy security for keeping coal and nuclear plants online is not supported by the facts, as multiple power networks, including PJM, one of the biggest United States independent systems, point to a recent extremely cold "bomb cyclone" weather event in the U.S. northeast that showed the regional grid operating efficiently despite coal power plant closures, cited by Ars Technica.

Gas-fired power generators are more vulnerable to cyber attacks than coal plants and nukes because gas must be delivered from remote fields via pipelines, according a draft report by the department. 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.

"Our nation must recognize the important role that coal and other traditional power sources play in rules created to make the national energy infrastructure stable and resilient".

The Defense Production Act gives the president powers to assure the nation can produce whatever resources are necessary in the time of national need. Nationwide, BNEF said, two dozen nuclear plants - representing almost 33 gigawatts - are either scheduled to close or probably won't make money through 2021.

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.

The president heralded the coal industry during his campaign and his presidency, and he's frequently talked about trying to bring coal jobs back.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency, unanimously rejected an earlier proposal by the Energy Department that would have favored coal and nuclear plants.

"President Trump has directed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations", Sanders added. This time, Perry is planning to resort to federal emergency measures typically employed during wartime or natural disasters, according to Bloomberg.

The proposal could have a big impact on PJM Interconnection, the country's largest electric grid, which covers Pennsylvania and much of the mid-Atlantic. FirstEnergy Solutions filed for bankruptcy within days of its emergency request. Oil and gas trade groups, along with wind and solar organizations, condemned the plan and said it would mean higher electric bills for consumers.

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