How Trump's 'Soviet-style' coal directive would upend power markets

resident Trump’s directive to save coal and nuclear plants from retirement could reshape the federal government’s relationship with the U.S. power sector and lead to an unraveling of wholesale power markets, energy researchers and former regulators say.

On Friday, Trump directed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to prepare recommendations to keep at-risk generators, pushed offline by cheaper power from natural gas and renewables, from retiring. The order came the same day as the release of a White House memo advocating for the Department of Energy to use its emergency powers and a Cold War-era nationalization law to keep the plants online.

Federal electric reliability authorities and regional grid operators all say the grid is reliable today, and future issues can be handled through established policymaking processes, rather than emergency tariffs.

“There is no need for such drastic action,” PJM Interconnect, the nation’s largest electricity market and site of many retiring coal and nuclear plants, said in a Friday statement. The grid operator last month opened a fuel security proceeding that it says will handle issues presented by retiring coal and nuclear generators.