Darrell Proctor, Power Magazine
An official with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) told a nuclear industry group this week that the agency and Trump administration officials are trying to identify power plants they consider critical to the nation’s grid. The move is seen as part of the White House effort to prop up the struggling U.S. coal and nuclear power industries.
Anthony Pugliese, FERC’s chief of staff, provided information during a talk before the American Nuclear Society, according to Rod Adams of Atomic Insights, a Virginia-based publishing company that produces content related to atomic energy. Adams shared audio of Pugliese’s remarks with E&E News. “We are working with DOD [Department of Defense] and DOE [Department of Energy] and NSC [National Security Council] to identify the plants that we think would be absolutely critical to ensuring that not only our military bases but things like hospitals and other critical infrastructure are able to be maintained, regardless of what natural or man-made disasters might occur,” Pugliese said.
The Trump administration wants to use Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act (FPA) to force system operators to buy power from uneconomic coal and nuclear plants. The statute was originally designed as a wartime maneuver to ensure the nation’s supply of baseload power in the event of a national emergency. The DOE earlier this year said it has begun an analysis to identify critical infrastructure, and said it sees orders issued under the FPA as a “temporary stop-gap measure to prevent the further permanent loss of the fuel-secure electric generation capacity for the grid upon which our national security depends, much like the interstate highway system.”