Trump Wants To Prop Up Coal And Nuclear Power In The USA

Donald Trump

Image: geralt

U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to stop ailing coal and nuclear plants across the country from closing, much to the horror of the nation’s gas and renewable energy supporters.

As the renewables juggernaut rumbles on in the USA, it has put increasing pressure on coal and nuclear power, leading to the closure of plants. In other words, things are going the way they were meant to as the U.S. moved towards a cleaner and more competitive energy sector.

This does not sit well with President Trump.

“Unfortunately, impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities are leading to a rapid depletion of a critical part of our Nation’s energy mix, and impacting the resilience of our power grid,” said a statement from the White House. “President Trump has directed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources, and looks forward to receiving his recommendations.”

The use of the term “fuel-secure” was an interesting one, considering the sun isn’t due to burn out any time some and the NOAA isn’t predicting wind to disappear.

The White House announcement was met with a backlash from a variety of groups, including the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“A policy to spend billions of dollars keeping uneconomic power plants afloat, while trying to put clean and affordable solar on the sidelines, is not a recipe for economic success,” stated Christopher Mansour, SEIA Vice President of Federal Affairs. “We urge policymakers to again block this ill-advised effort to keep plants running that most electric utilities have already decided to abandon, and for good reason.”

Opponents say there is no energy security emergency and such a move would undermine market stability, raise electricity costs for end consumers and set back climate action efforts.

Even Donald Trump hasn’t been game enough to tweet about his new directive (yet).

Whiffs Of Liddell

The situation isn’t unique to the USA. Closer to home, the Federal Government has been pressured from within its own ranks to intervene to prevent closure of the clapped-out coal clunker Liddell Power Station in 2022.

Owner AGL wants to replace it with gas peaker plants, renewable energy, battery storage and demand response. The Federal Government wants the plant to continue coughing and spluttering, citing energy security reasons.

In March, NSW Liberal MP Craig Kelly said replacing Liddell Power Station with solar panels, wind turbines and batteries is “as dangerous to the economy as rabies is in a dog” – but also failed to mention the other actions AGL would be implementing.  Craig Kelly compadre Tony Abbott stated last month that the government should compulsorily acquire the power station.

In April, AGL received an offer from Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and Alinta Energy Pty Limited to acquire Liddell Power Station, however the company decided not to proceed any further with the deal.

“The Offer significantly undervalues future cash flows to AGL of operating the Liddell Power Station until 2022 and the repurposing of the site thereafter,” stated the company in May.

AGL has reaffirmed its decision to close Liddell in December 2022 and the Australian Energy Market Operator has said implementation of the plan will address any capacity shortfall.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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