Memo: Rick Perry Plans to Order Authorities to Buy Electricity From Ancient Coal Plants

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

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.

  • katanahamon

    Depends on whether or not the first judge to see it is a right wing freak. I love how gigantic failures of business who have preyed upon the public for generations can get bailed out. However, if you get struck down by accident or illness, it’s a giant “fuck you.” Went to my pain clinic appointment like I am forced to very thirty days, and when I got to my pharmacy I was shocked to have an extra 150 bucks on the bill. “Oh, they want you to have Narcan in hand in case of overdose.” I said I was single, who the hell would be there to administer it..another instance of the innocent being punished. If this was a noble effort, they wouldn’t be charging pain patients for two doses of an extremely, extremely overpriced drug when we aren’t the ones overdosing in the first place. Being on a private disability policy and on pain meds has really shown me what America is all about. It’s been like three years now waiting for a hearing after two denials for SS disability, despite the fact a private company ok’d it. Profiting from the sick and denying their care and benefits..yeah, that must be what “makes America Great.”

  • muselet

    Renewables—the high-profile examples of wind and solar, anyway—aren’t suited to meeting baseload demand, barring the deployment of more Tesla Powerwalls, as the state of South Australia recently contracted to do.

    However, baseload demand can easily be met without coal or nuclear power plants. Natural gas is a better alternative, cheaper than either and cleaner than both (mining and processing nuclear fuel is filthy business).

    This is the Trump administration giving a little something back to the likes of Bob Murray, nothing more and nothing less.


  • Aynwrong

    I know that in the context of the memo that phrase “premature retirements” means coal mining plants but the first thought I had was Trump voters. Which is probably what this is meant for.

    Any news reporter who still publicly associates the GOP or Republican voters with “faith in the free markets” should be water boarded.

  • ninjaf

    You know, if they are really “scared” of a loss of electricity, there is one source that is pretty damn secure: the big, nuclear ball of energy burning in the sky.

    Just sayin’.