Energy

Pro-Trump Coal CEO Warns Of Looming Electric Grid Collapse

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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Coal executive Bob Murray warned of a looming electric grid crisis as more coal and nuclear power plants shut down due to economic and regulatory pressures.

“People are going to die in the dark” if coal’s share of electricity generation drops below 20 percent in some parts of the country, Energy CEO Murray warned. The recent “bomb cyclone” proved coal’s important role in grid reliability, Murray said at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit on Tuesday.

Murray is a supporter and donor of President Donald Trump and asked the administration to propose policies to keep coal plants from closing down. Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed a policy to subsidize baseload power plants, but energy regulators rejected it in January.

More recently, FirstEnergy Corp. petitioned Perry to use emergency powers to keep three nuclear power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania from closing in the next three years. Grid operator PJM also petitioned FERC to change the way electricity markets value generation.

It’s not clear if the Trump administration will grant FirstEnergy’s request or that even doing so would be enough to stave off a wave of expected power plant closures.

“My job is to find solutions to challenges that face us,” Perry said at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit on Monday. “The 202(c) may not be the way that we decide is the most appropriate — the most efficient way to address this.”

Coal provided 55 percent of extra power across six grid operators during the recent “bomb cyclone,” according to The Energy Department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory March report.

Murray said closures of coal plants his company supplies could result in 100,000 lost jobs.

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