The Trump administration announced Thursday a move to inject $50 million worth of technology into U.S. coal power projects to help update their efficiency and reduce operational expenses.
The Energy Department’s infusion will go toward various technologies aimed at updating and improving the country’s coal producers, the agency said in a press statement Thursday. Coal producers hoping to capitalize on the project must demonstrate technical success at a small-scale pilot stage.
Companies must also meet a handful of requirements before gaining access to the programs – the DOE will determine if the project is feasible for the selected company, then will go to a design stage. If the first two stages are completed, then money will go toward constructing and operating new facilities.
DOE’s coal pilot program comes shortly after the agency completed a study showing that many of the country’s coal plants are closing because they are unable to compete with cheap natural gas and subsidized green energy technology.
Most of the coal and oil retirements from 2011 to 2015 happened because plant owners chose to shut down rather than invest in expensive instruments required to comply with EPA’s final Clean Power Plan rule, which was finalized during the Obama administration.
The agency’s report also encouraged the Environmental Protection Agency to allow coal-fired power plants to improve efficiency without new regulatory approvals and associated costs weighing down their business models.
President Donald Trump campaigned during the presidential election on resuscitating the beleaguered coal industry. The president has spent the early part of his administration rolling back a series of his predecessor’s environmental regulations, many of which conservatives blame for coal’s slow demise.
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