August 10, 2018 Read More →

Trump administration continues to work on bailout for coal, nuclear plants

Bloomberg News:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is helping the Trump administration identify “critical” coal and nuclear power plants, a key step in the White House’s contentious plan to keep those facilities online in the name of national security.

Anthony Pugliese, FERC’s chief of staff, told an American Nuclear Society conference this week that the agency is helping the National Security Council as well as the departments of Defense and Energy determine which facilities should be deemed critical.

“We are working with DOD and DOE and the National Security Council to identify the plants that we think would be absolutely critical to ensuring that not only our military bases but things like hospitals and other critical infrastructure is able to be maintained, regardless of what natural or man-made disasters might occur,” Pugliese said, according to an audio recording of the remarks shared with Bloomberg News.

Donald Hoffman, the president of consultancy Excel Services Corp. and chairman of the conference, confirmed Pugliese’s comments.

Pugliese’s remarks show the Trump administration is still developing plans to stem coal and nuclear power plant closures in the name of national security, despite criticism that the efforts would represent an unprecedented intrusion into U.S. power markets. The remarks also are raising eyebrows because they suggest FERC, an independent energy regulator, is working in tandem with the White House on the plan, stoking concerns the agency is being inappropriately politicized.

Pugliese previously served as a member of the Trump administration’s transition team and as a senior White House adviser at the Department of Transportation. His remarks were earlier reported by E&E News.

“It appears as though the commission is secretly working on a massive bailout program” which conflicts with FERC’s mandate to conduct its activity “in a transparent, docketed process,” said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at the watchdog group Public Citizen.

The list is essential to the Trump administration’s developing plans to bolster money-losing coal and nuclear power plants at risk of closing in the face of competition from cheap natural gas. The administration is still honing possible interventions, including mandating electricity purchases and establishing a strategic reserve of critical power generators, in order to buy time for a two-year study of vulnerabilities in the American energy delivery system.

More: U.S. Starts Picking Power-Plant Winners for Emergency Aid

Comments are closed.