Energy

Rick Perry Asked To Issue An Emergency Order To Keep Nuclear Plants From Closing

REUTERS/Henry Romero

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

An Ohio-based utility asked Energy Secretary Rick Perry to invoke his authority under federal law to keep three nuclear power plants from closing down over the next three years.

FirstEnergy announced on Wednesday it would close down two nuclear plants in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania by 2021, getting out of the nuclear power business entirely. Now, the company is asking the federal government for help.

“DOE has received a 202c application from First Energy which will now go through our standard  review process,” Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

FirstEnergy’s appeal to Perry to use his Section 202 authority under the Federal Power Act was first reported by Bloomberg. FirstEnergy asked for “immediate intervention” to keep its nuclear plants open.

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FirstEnergy asked Perry to “find that an emergency condition exists” and “promptly compensate at-risk merchant nuclear and coal-fired power plants,” reads a letter obtained by Bloomberg.

The utility has also asked Ohio and Pennsylvania lawmakers to follow other states — namely, New York and Illinois — and enact policies to keep struggling baseload power plants afloat.

FirstEnergy was a major proponent of Perry’s proposal to compensate coal and nuclear power plants for keeping fuel on-site. The proposal was rejected by federal regulators, but it likely would have kept financially-struggling nuclear plants afloat.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) still has to sign off on FirstEnergy’s closing of its nuclear plants. It’s also unclear if Perry will enact the emergency order, though he did so twice in 2017.

Under the Federal Power Act, the Energy Secretary can order power plants stay online during times of “war in which the United States is engaged or when an emergency exists by reason of a sudden increase in the demand for electric energy, or a shortage of electric energy” or other problems with the grid and fuel supply.

DOE has used the power eight times since 2000, according to the agency. Most recently, Perry issued an emergency order to keep a coal and oil-burning plant online to ensure grid reliability in the Mid-Atlantic region.

FirstEnergy’s subsidiary, FirstEnergy Solutions, that operates the nuclear plants is heavily indebted. The company owes $2.8 billion to creditors and $1.7 billion to its parent company.

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