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FERC turns down Trump administration's plan to bail out coal, nuclear plants

EBR Staff Writer Published 09 January 2018

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has rejected the US government's plan to boost coal-fired and nuclear power generation, in what is seen as a setback to President Donald Trump’s efforts to revive the struggling coal industry.

The energy regulator decided not to go along the lines of a directive issued by the US Energy Secretary Rick Perry in late September to help save aging coal and nuclear power plants from going bankrupt by providing them with subsidiaries.

Perry had asked the regulator to consider rewarding the plants for their contribution towards the power grid’s resilience.

FERC, in its decision, said that there was no proof that any retirements of coal-fired power plants, whether in the past or planned, have any danger on the reliability of the country’s power grid.

However, the five-member commission said that it will look into the resilience aspect of the grid and requested details inside 60 days from regional transmission organizations and independent system operators that monitor the grid.

FERC said that it expects to review the information provided from them promptly before deciding on whether there is any need to take additional action on resilience of the power grid.

The Energy Secretary’s request to the regulator came after he turned down a request from the coal industry to issue an emergency order to protect coal plants that are being impacted severely by environmental rules and market stresses.

Perry said: “As intended, my proposal initiated a national debate on the resiliency of our electric system.

“What is not debatable is that a diverse fuel supply, especially with on site fuel capability, plays an essential role in providing Americans with reliable, resilient and affordable electricity, particularly in times of weather-related stress like we are seeing now.”

The Energy Secretary’s proposal was unanimously rejected by all the five members of the FERC panel.