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Trump orders ‘immediate steps’ to boost coal, nuclear plants

Author: Associated Press - June 1, 2018 - Updated: June 1, 2018

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Xcel Energy’s Comanche coal-fired power plant stands just southeast of Pueblo. (The Chieftain/File)
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prepare “immediate steps” to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open.White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump believes “keeping America’s energy grid and infrastructure strong and secure protects our national security, public safety and economy from intentional attacks and natural disasters.”Impending retirements of “fuel-secure” power plants that rely on coal and nuclear power are harming the nation’s power grid and reducing its resilience, Sanders said.

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The directive comes as the Trump administration considers a plan to order operators of the nation’s power grid to buy electricity from coal and nuclear plants to keep them open.

The action by the Energy Department, if ordered, would represent an unprecedented intervention into U.S. energy markets.

A draft memo by the Energy Department urges federal action to “stop the further premature retirements of fuel-secure generation” from coal and nuclear plants that have struggled to compete with natural gas and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the memo.

The plan would direct grid operators to buy power from coal and nuclear plants for two years to ensure grid reliability, “promote the national defense and maximize domestic energy supplies.”

The memo was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Colorado’s coal mines produced 15.2 million tons last year, up by 2 million from 2016, the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety says.

About two-thirds of the state’s coal comes from Arch Coal’s West Elk Mine, east of Grand Junction, and Peabody Energy’s Twentymile Mine in northern Colorado.

Xcel Energy has been converting some of its coal-fired power plants in Colorado to cheaper natural gas and has proposed closing down coal-fired units 1 and 2 at its Comanche Generating Station, just outside Pueblo.

Associated Press

Associated Press