Science

Trump throws ailing U.S. coal, nuke plants a lifeline, triggers backlash

Trump throws ailing U.S. coal, nuke plants a lifeline, triggers backlash

There have been meetings this week at the cabinet deputies' level and at the National Security Council. The group calls the DPA an "obscure wartime law that allows the president to secure scarce resources for national defense". Those plants are owned by some of the president's political allies in the coal industry.

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".

As reported earlier by Mining Weekly Online, according to data sourced from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), on April 22, thermal power plants with aggregating generation capacity of 140 065 MW had coal stocks of 15.01-million tons, equivalent to about nine days' consumption, against a normative stock requirement of 22 days set by CEA.

DOE's planned intervention into the energy market would last for two years, allowing for a federal study of vulnerabilities in the USA energy delivery and power grid, according to Bloomberg.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Friday that President Trump believes "keeping America's energy grid and infrastructure strong and secure protects our national security..."

Under a state law passed in 2016, utilities in OR are not allowed to bring coal-fired power into their customers' energy mix past 2035.

While administration officials are still deciding on their final strategy - and may yet decide against aggressive action - the memo represents the Energy Department's latest, most fully developed plan to intervene on behalf of coal and nuclear power plants, pitched to the president's top security advisers. PacifiCorp also has plans to shutter a number of its coal-fired units over the next 15 years.

The leaked memo circulating within the White House does not mention climate change.




A representative of the American Wind Energy Association, Amy Farrell, said that the "orderly retirement" of legacy power plants did not create the kind of emergency requiring special action by the Trump administration.

Robert Murray presented a proposal to Perry in March 2017, the month Perry took office.

Charles Jones, CEO of the Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy, said preserving coal and nuclear plants "is the right thing to do for the industry, the electric grid and our customers". Energy analysts say the measure is meant for short-term emergencies and it would be a bad fit to use it this way.

The draft memo from DOE takes the stance that while renewable energy and natural gas have their share of benefits, increased reliance on them "comes at the expense of fuel security and resilience", which the document defines as the grid's ability to withstand and recover from major disruptions, be it adversarial attacks or natural disasters. Numerous plants have operated far longer than anticipated when they were built.

It's a move the administration says will bolster national security but that critics say will drive up the price of electricity and slow the conversion to green power.

"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. Coal-fired plants have dominated fleet retirements over the past decade, and the only nuclear-energy project under construction in the country is Southern Company's troubled Vogtle expansion.

Among those arguing for federal action is Jeff Miller, a well-connected GOP fundraiser who has served as an adviser to Perry and other Republicans and ran Perry's unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2016.


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