Coal CEO blasts federal agency’s decision on power grid
WASHINGTON — A decision by an independent energy agency to reject the Trump administration’s plan to bolster the coal industry could lead to more closures of coal-fired power plants and the loss of thousands of jobs, a top coal executive said Tuesday.
Robert Murray, CEO of Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., called the action by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “a bureaucratic cop-out” that will raise the cost of electricity and jeopardize the reliability and security of the nation’s electric grid.
“While FERC commissioners sit on their hands and refuse to take the action directed by Energy Secretary Rick Perry and President Trump, the decommissioning of more coal-fired and nuclear plants could result, further jeopardizing the reliability, resiliency and security of America’s electric power grids,” Murray said. “It will also raise the cost of electricity for all Americans.”
The five-member energy commission voted unanimously Monday to reject Trump’s plan to reward nuclear and coal-fired power plants for adding reliability to the nation’s power grid. The plan would have made the plants eligible for billions of dollars in government subsidies and help reverse a tide of bankruptcies and loss of market share suffered by the once-dominant coal industry as natural gas and renewable energy flourish.
The Republican-controlled commission said there’s no evidence that any past or planned retirements of coal-fired power plants pose a threat to reliability of the nation’s electric grid.
Murray disputed that and said the recent cold snap that hit the East Coast showed coal’s value, as power users in the Southeast were asked to cut back on electricity usage because of a shortage of natural gas. “If it were not for the electricity generated by our nation’s coal-fired and nuclear power plants, we would be experiencing massive brownouts and blackouts in this country,” he said.
Murray Energy is the largest privately owned coal company in the United States, with mining operations in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Utah and West Virginia….