September 28, 2018 Read More →

DOE official: White House still reviewing coal bailout plan

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

The White House is still reviewing recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy on how to avoid further premature retirements of coal-fired and nuclear power plants, a DOE official told lawmakers Sept. 27.

Karen Evans, assistant secretary of the DOE’s newly formed Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response, testified Sept. 27 before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee. During the hearing, U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., asked Evans about the status of recent DOE proposals and requests from industry for emergency action to prevent financially struggling coal-fired and nuclear plants from closing. Based on comments Energy Secretary Rick Perry made Sept. 26, Evans said he “does not have anything new to update at this time” and “this is still a policy that is being reviewed by the White House.”

The DOE in a draft memo leaked in late May was contemplating requiring grid operators to buy power or capacity for two years from certain “fuel-secure” nuclear and coal-fired power plants while the federal government determines which energy resources may be critical to national security and defense. The proposal was not final, and neither the DOE nor White House has provided updates on the draft plan, which would involve using authorities under the Defense Production Act of 1950 and Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act.

During the Sept. 27 hearing, McKinley raised concerns about New England importing…power from Canada and receiving LNG shipments from Russia this past winter to meet its electricity demand. The region’s reliance on foreign energy sources highlights the need for supporting U.S. coal-fired and nuclear plants, he said.

“That’s why I think it’s so important that the White House and others move on this 202(c) or Defense [Production] Act,” McKinley said. Evans responded that she would “elevate” McKinley’s concerns with DOE leadership “to make sure it will feed into the policy process.”

Coal and nuclear proponents say regulatory and market pressures are forcing the closure of plants that are needed for reliability and resilience. But critics say subsidies to support those plants will raise costs for consumers and disadvantage other forms of energy without any added reliability benefits.

More ($): DOE official: White House still mulling policy to halt early plant closures

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