UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) – The Trump administration is working on a new plan to support coal plants and nuclear facilities, citing national security concerns, while critics say it is unnecessary as it will raise energy costs.
The move comes months after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission canceled a previous proposal to provide federal support to these struggling sectors to boost the capacity of the national energy grid.
The US regulatory body found the proposal unjustified and illogical.
But the White House announced on Friday it was working on a new plan.
“Keeping the US power grid and infrastructure strong and safe protects our national security, public safety and economy from deliberate attacks and natural disasters,” said spokeswoman Sarah Sanders in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the impending shutdown of power plants … will exhaust a key part of our energy mix rapidly and affect the network’s ability to withstand,” she said.
Trump asked Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prepare “immediate steps to prevent the loss of these resources,” she said.
The statement did not give further details, but a report by The Wall Street Journal said the new plan would force network operators to use energy produced in coal plants and nuclear facilities.
The operator of the US energy network, BJM, criticized the announcement, saying “there is no need for such a radical move.”
“Any federal intervention in the market to issue orders to consumers to buy electricity from certain power plants would hurt the market and therefore be costly to consumers,” WSJ said.
“A policy that requires billions of dollars to keep energy plants going, while trying to marginalize clean, affordable solar energy is not a prescription for economic success,” said Christopher Mansur of the Solar Energy Industry Association.
The share of the nuclear and coal fields in the market in recent years has diminished in favor of oil, natural gas and renewable energy.
Currently, only two nuclear reactors are under construction in the United States, along with 99 reactors currently in service. The coal sector faces a crisis as Trump pledged during his election campaign to end its decline.