Published: Mon, June 04, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Trump Orders Perry to Stem Coal, Nuclear Power Plant Closures

Trump Orders Perry to Stem Coal, Nuclear Power Plant Closures

American power generators are expected to retire - or announce the retirements of - 16,200 megawatts of coal-fired and 550 megawatts of nuclear plant capacity this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The Energy Department would also establish a "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve". Under the proposal, the president would exercise emergency authority to carry out the directive, which the memo reportedly says is necessary to preserve national security.

The draft memo laying out the directive would not give a certain quantity operators must spend however says it will likely be sufficient to maintain the services open for the following two years, saying that US nationwide safety "depends on a strong USA home industrial base, of which the coal, nuclear, and oil and pure fuel industries are vital strategic parts".

Department of Energy spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes did not respond to requests for comment.

Coal and nuclear plants are in trouble because across much of the country they're having trouble competing with cheaper forms of electricity generated by natural gas and renewable energy.

"If DOE proceeds as the memo suggests, a selection of coal and nuclear plants, ostensibly those at risk of retirement, would receive subsidized payments. under a stitched-together "Frankenstein's monster" of federal authorities", said a commentary by Height Analytics, a consulting firm.


Impending retirements of coal-fired and nuclear power plants are harming the nation's electric grid and reducing its resilience, and the president wants immediate action "to stop the loss of these resources", Sanders said.

The draft memo laying out the directive doesn't give a specific amount operators would have to spend but says it will be enough to keep the facilities open for the next two years, saying that USA national security "relies on a robust US domestic industrial base, of which the coal, nuclear, and oil and natural gas industries are critical strategic components". "There is no need for any such drastic action", said a PJM spokesperson about the new idea. "We urge policymakers to again block this ill-advised effort to keep plants running that most electric utilities have already made a decision to abandon - and for good reason". In the case of coal specifically, the National Energy Technology Lab stated that, during the 2018 Bomb Cyclone at the height of peak demand on January 5, 2018, "had coal been removed, a 9-18 GW shortfall would have developed".

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.

One other coalition of power business teams representing the oil, pure fuel, photo voltaic, and wind industries issued joint statements saying the administration's plan is "misguided", "unwarranted", and "an train in crony capitalism".

If adopted, the move would mark an unprecedented intervention in power markets, and would serve the administration's goal of bolstering America's struggling coal and nuclear industries that have been shrinking amid competition from natural gas, solar and wind power.

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