Energy Secretary Rick Perry failed to convince the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that they should subsidize coal-fired power plants that are due for retirement to maintain stability of the grid. In their own words, federal regulators said there's no evidence that the grid is unstable or vulnerable and Rick Perry failed to prove as much.
Bloomberg now reports that the Energy Department plans to invoke emergency authority to order regional energy authorities to purchase electricity from coal-fired power plants that are due for retirement.
The Trump regime's plans were detailed in a memo obtained by Bloomberg.
The Energy Department would exercise emergency authority under a pair of federal laws to direct the operators to purchase electricity or electric generation capacity from at-risk facilities, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The agency also is making plans to establish a "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve" with the aim of promoting the national defense and maximizing domestic energy supplies.
Federal action is necessary to stop the further premature retirements of fuel-secure generation capacity,” says a 41-page draft memo circulated before a National Security Council meeting on the subject Friday.
We don't know when this policy will be officially announced, but it seems all but assured that everyone under the sun is going to challenge it in federal court.
Regional power authorities have good reason to challenge it because it interferes with their ability to regulate their own market. States have good reason to challenge it because it interferes with state commerce, in some cases between multiple states. Cities and counties have good reason to challenge it because it will lead to higher electricity prices. Rivals in the natural gas and renewable industries have good reason to challenge it because it's a unfair distortion of the market. And environmentalists have good reason to challenge it because these retiring coal-fired power plants are extremely dirty.
My gut says the first federal judge who looks at this is going to strike it down. The federal government has emergency authority to regulate interstate commerce, but that doesn't mean you can invoke it on a whim with virtually no justification or evidence to support it.
For their part, Republicans have declared fealty to the infallible Free Market for as long as long as anyone can remember, but I don't expect Republicans in Congress will take legislative action to prevent this from happening. If they do, I'll eat my hat.