President Trump orders 'immediate steps' to boost coal, nuclear plants

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

The memo added that "federal action is necessary to stop the further premature retirements of fuel-secure generation capacity".

The DPA, enacted in 1950 during the Korean War to ensure the availability of critical materials and resources for the U.S. national defense, allows the secretary of energy, through a presidential delegation, to require contracts or allocations of materials and services to maximize domestic energy supplies. The National Coal Council said in a statement Friday that existing coal facilities provide "direct economic benefits, energy and price stability, job-creating opportunities and environmental benefits".

According to a report from Bloomberg, at a meeting today of the White House National Security Council, a 41-page draft memo was circulated that outlines the need for the USA grid to be "resilient and secure".

DOE did not respond to requests for comment.

As renewable energy and natural gas has become very low-cost, some coal and nuclear plants can no longer compete economically and are retiring early unless heavy-handed intervention, such as what was just proposed by the Administration, comes to the "rescue".

The Energy Department would be relying partly on the Federal Power Act - the so-called Section 202 authority - that lets the administration order guaranteed profits for power plants that can store large amounts of fuel on site.

"I am glad President Trump and his administration are considering my idea to use the Defense Production Act to save coal-fired power plants with emissions controls and protect our national security", Manchin says.

The Trump Administration is planning to support struggling coal-fired power plants by having grid operators purchase electricity from them. The owner of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant has said its plant has been unprofitable for six years.

Faced with a rear-guard action of saving a heavily-polluting industry, $43 billion publicly-traded coal and nuclear plant operator FirstEnergy - noted in part for its behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign attempting to eliminate a law that required utilities to assist in electricity efficiency programs for customers - demanded the DOE use its emergency order to bail out a company subsidiary just before it went bankrupt.

Based on knowledge from the Vitality Info Administration, coal consumption has fallen about 20 p.c in comparison with final 12 months, from about 149,200,000 quick tons within the first two months of 2017 to only beneath 119,600,000 quick tons within the first two months of 2018.

The Energy Department action, if ordered, would represent an unprecedented intervention into US energy markets.

There is no environmental argument for keeping open coal plants, which are the most carbon-intensive form of power.

Perry, under the auspices of the Trump White House, then switched tactics by proposing a new rule to require energy buyers to pay extra fees to coal and nuclear plants as a means of supporting the declining industry, but that requirement was quickly shot down by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who noted insufficient evidence to approve the extra fees.

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