The Trump Administration is planning to support struggling coal-fired power plants by having grid operators purchase electricity from them.
Under the proposal, the president would exercise emergency authority to carry out the directive, which the memo reportedly says is necessary to preserve national security.
"I am glad President Trump and his Administration are considering my idea to use the Defense Production Act to save coal-fired power plants with emissions controls and protect our national security", Senator Manchin said.
The administration has said it is concerned the retirement of old coal and nuclear plants could put US power supplies at risk because - unlike solar, wind, and natural gas power facilities - coal and nuclear generators can store fuel on site.
Depending on what the Trump administration decides, an intervention to prop up unprofitable coal and nuclear plants could cost consumers between $311 million to $11.8 billion per year, according to a preliminary estimate by Robbie Orvis, director of energy policy design at Energy Innovation. "Of keeping our plants, all of them, online, being able to deliver energy, no matter whether it's a natural disaster that we might see from a polar vortex, or it's something more nefarious, as a cyber attack from a terrorist state or some entity with bad intent for the United States", Perry said in the hearing on May 9.
American power generators are expected to retire - or announce the retirements of - 16,200 megawatts of coal-fired and 550 megawatts of nuclear plant capacity this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Trump has directed Perry "to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations".
Soon after taking charge, new CIL chairperson Anil Kumar Jha said that the Power Ministry had set a daily supply level to ensure that every thermal power plant was carrying 22 days consumption of coal - the normative stock as laid down in standard operating procedures. U.S. Defense Department installations are 99 percent dependent on the commercial power grid, one reason that electric system reliability is vitally important to national defense and homeland security, the memo asserts.
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It concluded that Trump's actions were in keeping with the expansive powers of the presidency and could not constitute crimes. At the time , Rosenstein also wrote his own memo criticizing Comey's handling of the Clinton case.
Murray has been seeking emergency action to boost his industry since past year and has met with Trump to argue that federal help was needed to avert thousands of layoffs and maintain the reliability of the electric grid up and down the East Coast.
"Emboldened by President Trump's promises to 'save the coal industry, ' conservatives who have long argued against subsidies for solar and wind power have a newfound desire for the federal government to pick winners in energy systems, as a growing number of coal plants become uneconomic and close down". A coalition of natural gas and renewable power advocates told Perry that "power plant retirements are a normal, healthy feature of electricity markets", and therefore there is no emergency that would justify Energy Department action.
Since campaigning for the White House, Trump has vowed to revive the ailing US coal industry.
"Murray, for instance, wants the DOE to approve an emergency order, under Section 202 (c) of the Federal Power Act, which allows the federal government to intervene in energy markets in times of electricity reliability emergencies, though it's only ever been used historically in times of war or sudden resource shortage".
The country's largest grid operator, PJM Interconnection, says in a statement, "There is no need for any such drastic action".
The head of the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA), a national trade association representing independent power producers and marketers, calls the memo an "unprecedented executive branch intervention" and fears that the "economic consequences [would be] profound for power suppliers and consumers".
Coal company CEO Robert Murray of Murray Energy [MUYEY.UL], also called for Perry to use emergency powers to save at-risk coal plants.