Electric grid endangered by closing reliable coal and nuclear plants that are replaced by less reliable alternative energy

Fuel Fix:
President Donald Trump ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to "prepare immediate steps" to protect the nation's ailing coal and nuclear power sector, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday.

The statement comes as the White House is weighing an unprecedented use of national security powers to bail out industries they say are critical to keeping the nation's power grid operating. A memo this week from the Department of Energy calls for the administration to order power grid operators to buy electricity from a list of struggling coal and nuclear plants for two years "to forestall any further action towards retirement, decommissioning, or deactivation of such facilities."

"Too many of these fuel secure [coal and nuclear] plants have retired prematurely," it reads. "Although the lost megawatts of power are often replaced by new generation from natural gas and renewable energy sources, this transition comes at the expense of fuel security and resilience."

Whether the White House will go ahead with the plan laid out in the memo, which was first reported by Bloomberg News late Thursday, remains to be seen. In the statement Friday, Sanders said Trump "looks forward to receiving [Perry's] recommendations."

"Keeping America's energy grid and infrastructure strong and secure protects our national security, public safety, and economy from intentional attacks and natural disasters," the statement read.

The move drew quick condemnation from across the U.S. economy. In recent months a coalition that includes everyone from oil and gas companies to solar developers, environmentalists to major corporations like General Electric and Apple has fought back any move to bail out the coal and nuclear sectors as likely to raise electricity rates.
Since coming into office Perry, the former governor of Texas, has repeatedly expressed concern the shift away from coal and nuclear power, both of which store fuel on-site, could lead to widespread power outages in the event of unusual weather patterns or a shutdown in natural gas pipelines.

Last year he proposed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission amend federal regulation to raise rates for coal and nuclear plants. When that was rejected, he began examining a proposal by a power company to use national security powers to keep coal and nuclear plants open.
While natural gas is a reliable alternative, wind and solar energy lack the ability to scale up to meet demand when extreme weather events tax the grid.  Another problem with the current system is that the anti-energy left has blocked pipelines that would feed natural gas to certain areas of the country such as New England, which last winter had to import LNG from Russia just as the Democrats in the area were blaming Russia for interfering in the US election. 

If they are going to block natural gas pipelines while at the same time insisting on the closure of coal and nuclear facilities they are going to find themselves without adequate supplies of electricity when they need it most.


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