Trump plan to subsidize coal and nuclear plants will cost $10.6 billion a year

The Trump administration has issued a plan to subsidize coal and nuclear plants that store fuel on-site. An independent report found that the plan would cost $10.6 billion a year and would prop up facilities that would go out of business due to falling market demand.
By Mark Schwartz | Nov 02, 2017
A Trump administration plan to subsidize nuclear and coal-powered plants would cost around $10.6 billion a year and would prop up some of the worst-polluting power plants in the country, a new analysis reported. The analysis, a joint report by Energy Innovation and the Climate Policy Initiative, concluded that the subsidies enable industries that are simply no longer able to compete in the changing energy marketplace.

"The irony of putting costs on consumers for resources that are no longer competitive is really striking," said Brendan Pierpont, energy finance consultant at Climate Policy Initiative. "It would serve to keep a lot of uneconomic plants in the market that currently can't compete with the changing dynamics of cheap gas and the falling cost of renewables."

The plan would would provide payments to facilities that store fuel on-site for 90 days or more because they are "indispensable for our economic and national security." Rick Perry, Department of Energy secretary, said that facilities that keep fuel on-site are a necessary safeguard against power outages and that the grid might need them "in times of supply stress" such as natural disasters. Around 90 plants in the eastern and midwestern United States would get the subsidies, according to the report.

Coal and nuclear energy have both gone into decline as natural-gas extraction and renewable-energy production grow across the country. The Department of Energy pointed out that 531 coal plants went permanently offline between 2002 and 2016 and that eight nuclear plants in the past year announced that they are retiring.

The plant-subsidy plan must undergo approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, whose three commissioners include two Trump appointees. Perry has asked for a ruling by November 27.

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