Trump administration taking steps to save coal plants; effect on Colstrip unclear

Report: Department of Energy recommends bail out of failing coal plants

Report: Department of Energy recommends bail out of failing coal plants

Watchdog clears Perry's use of military, charter flights MORE to take "immediate steps" to prevent the further closures of coal energy plants around the US, the White House said Friday.

As Bloomberg noted, there is no guarantee the president would sign off on the directive, but the White House did issue a statement on Friday saying it was weighing different options to keep America's energy grid "strong".

In a uncommon transfer, the Trump administration confirmed Friday that it's going to take "instant steps" to stop coal and nuclear energy services within the USA from closing.

"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", Senator Manchin said.

The statement from the White House didn't detail how the government would work to keep plants open.

"This prudent stop-gap measure" will allow coal and nuclear plants to remain open while the department takes further steps to secure the grid, the memo said.

The agency also is making plans to establish a "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve" with the aim of promoting the national defense and maximizing domestic energy supplies.

Over the two years in question, DoE officials would ostensibly research USA power grid network vulnerabilities, using the study as a justification to keep unprofitable and polluting power plants running as a matter of national security, according to Bloomberg. Under a 2010 agreement, Portland General Electric plans to shut Oregon's only coal-fired power plant in Boardman in 2020.

"It's high time someone realized the importance and the reliability of the grid". This time, Perry is planning to resort to federal emergency measures typically employed during wartime or natural disasters, according to Bloomberg. Twenty-five coal plants have closed since he took office, as they face competition from natural gas, wind and solar power, the Times reported.

LARGE SWATH OF ENERGY INDUSTRY OPPOSES DOE INTERVENTIONBut the use of either statute to prevent coal and nuclear retirements has been looked at with skepticism by Washington insiders and been blasted by most of the power sector outside of those with coal and nuclear interests. The owner of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant has said its plant has been unprofitable for six years.

One likely plan, laid out in a 41-page draft memorandum posted online by Bloomberg News and Utility Dive, would favor certain power plants in the name of national security. It relies on authorities given to the executive branch in the Defense Production Act of 1950 and the Federal Power Act.

Invoking national security concerns could bolster the Trump administration's case in any legal challenges over the intervention, said Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at Harvard University.

NGSA President and CEO Dena Wiggins said "this misguided attempt to artificially resuscitate a specific set of aging and uneconomic power plants will do far more harm than good", including raising costs and undermining competitive power markets.

As Trump's fossil-fuel energy mouthpiece, Perry earlier commissioned a study to identify regulatory causes for coal-plant closures, but no regulations were found; instead, cheap natural gas was observed to be responsible for widespread industry decline. 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.

"Orderly power plant retirements do not constitute an emergency for our electric grid", said Amy Farrell, vice president of the American Wind Energy Association.

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