Trump Weighs Propping Up This Financially-Strapped Coal Company

REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

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Chris White Tech Reporter

President Donald Trump is now considering using taxpayer money to support an energy company that is being forced to shutter several nuclear plants across Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The White House is looking into ways of getting struggling utility company FirstEnergy up and running, Trump said at a rally Thursday in West Virginia. FirstEnergy wants help keeping its nuclear plants open.

“And we’ll be looking at that 202. … And we’ll be looking at that as soon as we get back,” Trump said at the rally. He was referring to First Energy’s request for the Energy Department to use Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act to coal companies upright.

FirstEnergy announced in March plans to close two nuclear plants in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania by 2021, essentially prompting the company to leave the nuclear power business entirely.

FirstEnergy asked DOE chief Rick Perry in a March 29 request to “find that an emergency condition exists” and “promptly compensate at-risk merchant nuclear and coal-fired power plants,” according to a report from 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. Backing FirstEnergy, and other at-risk nuclear plants, could take on significant political ramifications.

There are nuclear reactors in 63 counties. Trump ultimately won 50 of those counties in the 2016 primary and 48 of them in general election. Nuclear power plants are found in the red states and blue-collar communities that Trump will need to win re-election in 2020.

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