There’s No Power Grid Emergency Requiring a Coal Bailout, Regulators Say

Image of coal fired plantThe top regulators of the nation’s power grid told Congress on Tuesday that they see no immediate national security emergency to justify propping up coal and nuclear power plants with a government order, as the Trump administration is considering.

All five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, weighed in at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a debate that has been roiling the industry and its regulators for months. It was the first time in many years that the whole commission had appeared before the committee together.

Even though most of them were appointed by President Donald Trump, they seemed ambivalent or even hostile to his repeated attempts, along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to require grid operators to buy power from uneconomical coal and nuclear power plants.

Trump political supporters and influential fossil fuel companies, including the coal company Murray Energy and utility FirstEnergy, have pushed for a government-ordered bailout, while a diverse mix of environmental advocates, major grid operators and some public utility companies and natural gas suppliers have argued strongly against it. 06-12-18

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