Trump’s coal industry bail out would punish red states the most

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The US president’s plan to bail out unprofitable coal and nuclear plants will cost American consumers. Hardest hit will be the Trump-supporting southeastern states.

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source: nypost
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Think Progress

source: nypost

President Trump has ordered Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to take “immediate steps” to bailout unprofitable coal and nuclear plants.

This move, initiated on Friday, will inevitably increase electricity rates and pollution for all Americans. Perry is already drafting a plan that would prevent grid operators from replacing dirty coal power with cheaper and far less polluting natural gas, solar, and wind power.

Those hardest hit by Trump’s order will be the states where the most money-losing power plants reside. And, ironically, the most uneconomic coal plants are in the Southeastern states, which overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump.

Indeed, in March, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released a detailed analysis of the most unprofitable plants, which “paints a particularly bleak picture for coal plants in the regulated Southeast”. As the chart below demonstrates, the biggest money losers are represented by the large, dark red dots.

According to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News, the Department of Energy (DOE) is already putting together a plan to use emergency authority (provided under two federal laws) to force the operators of the electric grid to purchase power from a list of designated plants for two years.

Invoking the laws, however, requires some sort of national security emergency — so any such ruling is expected to be challenged in court. After all, there is no security threat posed by replacing expensive dirty energy plants with cheaper cleaner ones.

Indeed, the bigger security threat to Americans would come from continuing to run unprofitable coal plants — a move that will worsen climate change, perhaps the biggest preventable threat to US security today.

Nonetheless, on Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement saying the bailout of coal and nuclear plants is needed for national security purposes: “Impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities are leading to a rapid depletion of a critical part of our nation’s energy mix, and impacting the resilience of our power grid.”

So-called “fuel-secure power facilities” are plants that have a large supply of fuel onsite and are therefore supposed to be more reliable.

But the problem for the new plan by Trump and Perry is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the retirement of money-losing coal and nuclear plants makes the electric grid less reliable and resilient.

In fact, back in January, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — which oversees the U.S. grid — unanimously rejected a very similar plan by Perry to raise consumer energy bills in order to bail out coal and nuclear power plants.

The unanimous vote was especially notable since 3 of the 5 commissioners are Trump appointees, including the new chair.

In its ruling, FERC slapped down Perry’s main argument that somehow cheap renewables (and natural gas) are forcing essential coal and nuclear plants to be shut down. They note that “the extensive comments submitted” by the grid operators “do not point to any past or planned generator retirements that may be a threat to grid resilience.”

Indeed, to make his case, Perry had to ignore his own grid study, which had made clear renewables were not a threat to power reliability.

The new Trump plan has uniquely broad opposition.

“This has got to be one for the record books,” tweeted New York Times investigative reporter Eric Lipton. “Oil industry joins with solar and wind industry to condemn Trump admin plan to prop up coal industry by forcing electric grid to buy coal power. Oil/wind/solar as allies? Fascinating times.”

The truth is that the only people who benefit from keeping money-losing plants open are rich coal barons like Bob Murray, a big Trump donor who has been pushing for this bailout for over a year.

Everyone else in the country — and most especially Trump’s own voters — would have to pay for this bailout, with higher electricity bills and with the public health costs that come from having dirtier air.

This article was originally published on Think Progress. Reproduced here with permission

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14 Comments
  1. Joe 1 year ago

    Just another day in Trumpland. More subsidies for FF to add to the trillions FF gets worldwide. Anything that delays RE in Trumpland gets the tick of approvals. Now for the media show with Trumpy at his ‘signing table’ with magic pen in hand as he scribbles away…. Donald J Trump.

    • Ken Dyer 1 year ago

      It’s just typical of this 5 time bankrupt to support dirty expensive coal that he will make the American taxpayer pay for.
      Clearly, he has not got a clue.

      Everything Trump touches turns to shit.

      • Joe 1 year ago

        He still hasn’t presented his Tax Returns like he promised he would. How much money has he himself pulled from the Government as well as creditors from his business failures over the years. How did the US punters ever manage to put a crook in charge of affairs.

        • Ken Dyer 1 year ago

          You may find some answers to your questions by watching Miriam Margoyles on ABC on Tuesday nights.

          http://miriammargolyes.com/

          • Joe 1 year ago

            Thanks for the tip

      • Calamity_Jean 1 year ago

        IIRC, he’s had six bankruptcies, not five.

        • Ken Dyer 1 year ago

          Sorry CJ I lost count somewhere between withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Committee and the removal of breast feeding children on the Mexican border.
          I do know one thing, everything Trump touches turns to shit.

          • Calamity_Jean 1 year ago

            I knew he was going to be bad. I had no idea he was going to be this bad. Every time I wake up, the news is worse. My parents were lifelong Republicans. I’m glad they are dead so they don’t have to hear about what Trump is doing.

  2. Andy Saunders 1 year ago

    Ironically, a Stalinist energy regime…

  3. Robert Barnes 1 year ago

    I can just feel the envy growing in the FF funded Monash Forum! They must be beside themselves with anger: North QLD rejects new coal burner and instead has Gigawatts of proposals for economical clean energy. Abbott’s and Kelly’s dreams of even more massive subsidies for coal here are hopefully only the American Dream. Poor Americans… Trump dream is truly a nightmare.

  4. RobertO 1 year ago

    Hi all, Just think how much better we would be under the USA rules where the single leader is able to spend money to support mates in trouble. babbott and co (coal ash group or the RWNJ’s would have ordered new high emissions low energy coal power station under the guise of “we need Baseload Power” such as the shock jock allien bones said on TV this morning, “Most of our power is going to come from coal” implying that RE has no future or it not capable of supplying “Baseload Power”.
    The sooner we have an election where the current Fed Gov goes the better the world will become.

  5. DevMac 1 year ago

    Risks to a countries energy security:

    1. Energy that must be imported from other countries
    2. Large, centralised power generation

    Energy security problems mitigated by energy produced by solar and wind:

    1. Energy that must be imported from other countries
    2. Large, centralised power generation

  6. Pixilico 1 year ago

    But they’ll keep on supporting that rowdy sad sorry little man nonetheless. Wanna bet?

  7. Calamity_Jean 1 year ago

    ‘ “This has got to be one for the record books,” tweeted New York Times investigative reporter Eric Lipton. “Oil industry joins with solar and wind industry to condemn Trump admin plan to prop up coal industry by forcing electric grid to buy coal power. Oil/wind/solar as allies? Fascinating times.” ‘

    In the US, almost all natural gas is a by-product of oil production; there’s no coal seam gas. The oil companies see that natural gas will find a good market as a fill-in fuel for generating electric power for years to come, and want to make more money from their wells.

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