Perry stays vague on DOE's coal and nuclear bailout progress
- Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Monday said he wasn't ready to share a timetable or details for how he would follow President Donald Trump's directive to head off nuclear and coal plant closures.
- Speaking ahead of the week-long World Gas Conference, Perry cited his experience with natural gas, saying he had "sung its praises for a long time," the Washington Examiner reported.
- According to a draft memo from the Department of Energy (DOE) that surfaced at the start of June, the Trump administration plans to direct the federal government to purchase electricity or generation capacity from coal and nuclear plants for two years. The DOE's bailout package for at-risk generators remains unclear.
"We are looking at all the contingencies and different impacts," Perry told reporters on Monday.
Perry's comments echoed previous statements to the press made by Energy Undersecretary Mark Menezes earlier this month at an Energy Information Administration conference. Menezes said the DOE draft memo was being considered as one of several options.
Perry highlighted the importance of a bailout plan to keep coal and nuclear power plants open in competitive power markets. The DOE draft memo proposed using Perry's executive authority under the Federal Power Act's and the Defense Production Act's emergency provisions to subsidize select plants.
Responding to criticisms that federal intervention would disrupt the electricity market and raise prices, Perry said, "The economics is secondary from my perspective. There is the potential to see some really chaotic attacks in this country. That is DOE’s responsibility to make sure that does not happen."
Natural gas companies have opposed any market interference for coal and nuclear, joining renewable energy companies. Perry said those concerns won't stop him from acting, to ensure people have access to electricity.
Regarding natural gas, the Trump administration has said pipeline infrastructure is vulnerable to physical and cyberattacks, thus increasing the need to ensure baseload generation options.
- E&E News Perry mum on plan to save coal, nuclear
- Washington Examiner Rick Perry OK with being 'punching bag' for saving coal, nuclear plants
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