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Trump team plays up coal use during cold snap

12 January 2018

Robert Murray, CEO of Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., called the action by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission "a bureaucratic cop-out" that will raise the cost of electricity and jeopardize the reliability and security of the nation's electric grid.

The US energy watchdog terminated Monday a key proposal by President Donald Trump's administration to subsidize coal and nuclear plants, finding it neither justified nor reasonable.

Perry asked FERC in September to create a rule that would compensate plants that keep 90 days of supply on site - primarily coal and nuclear facilities - arguing this so-called baseload energy is necessary to keep the USA grid resilient.

In announcing its decision, FERC cited an existing department study's findings that "changes in the generation mix, including the retirement of coal and nuclear generators, have not diminished the grid's reliability or otherwise posed a significant and immediate threat to the resilience of the electric grid".

Perry said the rule was necessary to keep the USA electric grid resilient during events such as the 2014 Polar Vortex, when disruptions to natural gas supplies during extreme cold contributed to power outages.

In his statement Tuesday, he said the recent bout of cold weather across the United States underscored the need to keep coal and nuclear plants functioning. Robert Murray, a Trump friend and political supporter, has been pushing hard for federal assistance for his industry.

Another Trump ally, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, also blasted the FERC decision on Tuesday, saying the commissioners had failed to carry out the president's agenda. The plan would have disrupted electricity markets and raised prices, especially in the Northeast and Midwest, opponents said.

The decision by the five-person commission - which includes four Trump administration nominees - was a setback for Trump's pro-coal agenda, but cheered an unusual alliance of natural gas drillers, environmentalists, and renewable energy advocates that either compete with coal or oppose its emissions.

Trump team plays up coal use during cold snap