(Reuters) – The U.S. Interior Department may use executive powers to prevent a large coal-fired power plant from shutting down next year in Arizona, the latest attempt by the Trump administration to throw a lifeline to at-risk coal and nuclear plants.
The head of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation said on Friday that a 1968 law gives Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke power to require an Arizona water project to buy energy from the Navajo Generating Station, or NGS, a 2,250-MW coal-fired power plant that is scheduled to close in 2019. Such a move could delay the plant’s closure.
The proposal fits neatly with a broader effort by the administration of President Donald Trump to keep aging coal and nuclear plants from retirement, arguing their closure would constitute a threat to national energy security.
Hundreds of coal-fired power plants have shut in recent years, along with several nuclear plants, under pressure from cheaper alternatives like natural gas and advances in wind and solar energy.
Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Timothy Petty wrote a letter, dated June 1, to the board of directors of the Central Arizona Project, or CAP, saying the 1968 Colorado River Basin Project Act gives the secretary “governing authority” to decide the generation source for the project.