The Trump Administration has made no secret of its desire to prop up coal and nuclear plants for political purposes and today the White House made it abundantly clear. At the same time, a leaked draft memo unveiled last night repackages a previously rejected idea to bail out coal and nuclear plants, this time arguing that they are needed to protect national security. The memo proposes that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issue an order requiring electricity grid operators to purchase, for two years, electricity from expensive and uncompetitive coal and nuclear facilities that would otherwise retire.
Last September, DOE asked FERC to bail out coal and nuclear plants under the premise that doing so was necessary to ensure grid resilience. DOE used the Federal Power Act (FPA) as its legal support.
A Republican-led FERC, with four Trump Administration appointees, unanimously rejected the proposal on January 8 as illegal. FERC agreed, however, to further study grid resilience. That study is ongoing, but the overwhelming response thus far is that the grid is already resilient—without bailouts for coal and nuclear generation.