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White House Drops Scheme to Bail Out Coal, Nukes

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(202) 667-6982
For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

WASHINGTON  – The White House has reportedly shelved a plan by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prop up the failing coal and nuclear industries by making operators of regional electric grids buy power from aging coal and nuclear plants.

Politico reported that President Trump’s advisors on the National Security Council could find no national security justification for the scheme, and advisors on the National Economic Council objected over concerns it would increase the cost of energy for consumers.

Despite the inexorable reality that coal is quickly heading toward the ashbin of history as a major of source of energy, Perry has twice put forth plans to require regional electricity suppliers to buy above-market-rate power from coal and nuclear plants, even when cheaper sources are available. The failure of the schemes is a major blow to Trump’s promises to revive the dying coal industry.

“A fundamental of sound energy policy is to avoid picking winners among energy sources instead of letting the market decide. In this case, the White House was hell-bent on picking losers,” said EWG President Ken Cook.

“Whether it’s a dictator who says he didn’t interfere in our elections or that global warming will fix itself, this president will believe almost anything he’s told,” said Cook. “But this scheme to bail out the dying coal industry on the backs of ratepayers was too far a stretch even for the Trump White House.”

A 2017 report by EWG analyzed data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Energy Information Administration, showing that since 2009, solar power capacity has grown by a factor of 89 and wind power capacity has increased six-fold. The federal data also showed that utilities plan to close dozens of coal and nuclear units in the next few years.

Coal and nuclear capacity have declined or stagnated, as the rapidly declining cost of solar and wind power – among other factors, including the glut of natural gas and increased energy efficiency – are driving coal and nuclear plants out of the competitive wholesale market for electricity.