Trump to save struggling U.S. coal-fired power plants?

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The Energy Department would exercise emergency authority under a pair of federal laws to direct the operators to purchase electricity or electric generation capacity from at-risk facilities, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

The statement from the White House didn't detail how the government would work to keep plants open. After the Energy Department conducted a study of grid reliability a year ago, Perry proposed a rule that would have compensated coal and nuclear plants for their ability to store months' worth of fuel on site.

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 USA independent systems, point to a recent extremely cold "bomb cyclone" weather event in the United States northeast that showed the regional grid operating efficiently despite coal power plant closures, cited by Ars Technica.

The memo allegedly wrote that "Too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement".

For more than a year, Murray, CEO of the nation's biggest underground mining company, Murray Energy, has been pleading directly with President Donald Trump and Secretary Perry to bail out coal plants that have been unable to compete with natural gas and renewables and risk closing. As nuclear and coal plants are decommissioned, regulators have been grappling with how to ensure that the nation's power system can withstand extreme weather events and cyber-attacks.

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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.

"Once a nuclear power plant closes, it begins decommissioning and will not be reopened". Nonetheless, supporting the flagging coal industry was one of Trump's campaign promises, although the president's current energy secretary, former Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, has made few inroads in his attempts to convince Capitol Hill and the energy industry that coal-burning power sources should be kept alive.

While many of President Trump's top donors advocate for the support of struggling coal-fired power plants, it is unclear as to whether or not Trump has signed off on the plan. The owner of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant has said its plant has been unprofitable for six years.

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

"We strongly urge the administration to reject this ill-conceived draft plan and adopt a policy approach that promotes market forces and competition in our nation's power system", Todd Snitchler, director of market development at the American Petroleum Institute, said. A FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary requested immediate intervention from Perry's agency in late March.

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Grid operator PJM criticized the announcement, saying there was "no need for any such drastic action".

The head of the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA), a national trade association representing independent power producers and marketers, calls the memo an "unprecedented executive branch intervention" and fears that the "economic consequences [would be] profound for power suppliers and consumers".

After receiving hundreds of pages of comments ghostwritten by FirstEnergy, FERC ultimately shot down that rule in January, and Murray later blamed this decision for FirstEnergy's bankruptcy filing.

"It's going to be tough to get a court to question DOE's factual finding - particularly if it relates to national defense", Peskoe said in an interview. That authority has generally been reserved for potentially widespread blackouts and disruptions.

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