The Trump administration is considering a plan to order operators of the nation's power grid to buy electricity from struggling coal and nuclear plants to keep them open.
While natural gas pipeline infrastructure is characterized as "indispensable", the draft memo still takes aim at gas-fired generation as "a major point of vulnerability in our critical energy infrastructure" as opposed to the fuel-secure capacity of coal, nuclear, hydro and dual-fuel units. At the same time, hackers from criminal groups and hostile regimes are growing increasingly sophisticated in how they target weak spots.
The Trump administration has been preparing to invoke emergency powers granted under Cold War-era legislation to order regional grid operators to buy electricity from ailing coal and nuclear power plants.
The US energy watchdog found the proposals neither justified nor reasonable But on Friday, the White House said it was working on a new plan.
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.
A press release from White Home press secretary Sarah Sanders didn't say particularly what steps the administration would take however stated that "protecting America's power grid and infrastructure sturdy and safe protects our nationwide safety, public security, and economic system from intentional assaults and pure disasters".
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An increasing number of coal and nuclear plants have gone under in recent years while a cheaper and cleaner alternative, natural gas, has become more mainstream.
Coal stocks rose on news of the draft plan.
The DOE measure would also create a "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve", which would shore up the U.S.'s domestic energy reserves in case of an emergency. 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.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency, unanimously rejected an earlier proposal by the Energy Department that would have favored coal and nuclear plants. U.S. Defense Department installations are 99 percent dependent on the commercial power grid, one reason that electric system reliability is vitally important to national defense and homeland security, the memo asserts. The plan calls for Perry to use the Federal Power Act and the Defense Production Act to temporarily delay retirements of coal and nuclear plants. "There is no need for any such drastic action", said a PJM spokesperson about the new idea.
The American Council on Renewable Vitality, a nonprofit that represents numerous teams that wish to emphasize renewable power sources, stated in an announcement that the administration is intervening to bail out coal and nuclear energy vegetation "which are now not aggressive on their very own".
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