The White House’s plan to bail out America’s coal country has been shot down — by the very energy regulators that President Donald Trump appointed last year.
In an order Monday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s sweeping proposal to subsidize struggling coal and nuclear plants in the name of keeping power grids dependable. Instead, the commission asked grid operators to suggest their own ideas to make the system more resilient.
“We appreciate the Secretary reinforcing the resilience of the bulk power system as an important issue that warrants further attention,” the agency said in the order. Four of the five commissioners were appointed by Trump; three are Republicans.
The defeat is a setback for the president, who vowed on the campaign trail to revive the battered coal industry and put miners back to work. The Energy Department plan drew criticism from natural gas producers, grid operators and others who argued it would undermine competition in wholesale power markets. Consumers in more than a dozen states would have foot the bill, which could have totaled billions.
“As intended, my proposal initiated a national debate on the resiliency of our electric system,” Perry said in a statement. “What is not debatable is that a diverse fuel supply, especially with on site fuel capability, plays an essential role in providing Americans with reliable, resilient and affordable electricity.”
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