On Friday, President Trump directed energy secretary Rick Perry to take “immediate steps” to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open, calling it a matter of national and economic security.
The statement from the White House came hours after Bloomberg News obtained a draft memo detailing an Energy Department plan to direct PJM and other regional transmission operators to buy power from coal and nuclear plants to ensure grid reliability while promoting national defense and maximizing domestic energy supplies.
In its effort, the Trump administration is turning to two laws. The Defense Production Act gives the president broad power to force private industries to ensure the timely delivery of products and services. And Section 202 of the Federal Power Act enables the president to guarantee profits for power plants that can store large fuel reserves on site — a criteria that only coal and nuclear plants typically can meet.
The agency’s planned intervention into the energy market would last for two years, allowing for a federal study of vulnerabilities in the U.S. energy delivery and power grid, the memo says.
If ordered, the action would represent an unprecedented intervention into U.S. energy markets.