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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry's controversial proposal to guarantee financial returns for coal-fired and nuclear power plants in some markets.

Instead, in a notice Monday, the commission, which includes four of five regulators appointed by President Trump, said it's launching a new process to review power system resilience, and asking regional electricity market operators to submit information within 60 days that helps FERC "holistically" explore the topic.

Why it matters: Perry's proposal last fall was among the administration's most aggressive steps to prevent coal and nuclear plants from shutting down amid intense competition from natural gas, flat power demand and the growth of renewables.

Quick take: FERC’s unanimous action is a sign that while the Trump administration has taken a suite of steps to aid the coal industry, finding policies that directly counteract the powerful forces that have diminished the fuel’s market share will be a major challenge.

Perry has argued that keeping at-risk coal and nuclear plants online is important for the resilience and reliability of the grid in the future.

However, the plan drew strong pushback from a coalition that included natural gas and renewables interests and some free-market groups, which said it painted an inaccurate picture of the extent to which coal and nuclear generation is needed to ensure a resilient and reliable grid.

The notice Monday finds that Perry's plan failed to meet "clear and fundamental legal requirements" under the Federal Power Act.

What's next: FERC said that resilience will be a "priority" for the commission, and that its new proceeding will seek to "develop a common understanding among the Commission, industry, and others of what resilience of the bulk power system means and requires."

The commissioners said they want to better understand how regional grid operators assess the topic. FERC said it would use the information it gathers to "evaluate whether additional Commission action regarding resilience is appropriate at this time."

Go deeper

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Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of Americans are worried that trick-or-treating will spread coronavirus in their communities, according to this week's installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This may seem like more evidence that the pandemic is curbing our nation's cherished pastimes. But a closer look reveals something more nuanced about Americans' increased acceptance for risk around activities in which they want to participate.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 11 hours ago - Economy & Business

Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a restaurant platform sponsored by private equity firm Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.