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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

23 mins ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Rising rates may hammer the stock market

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Stocks are much more vulnerable to interest rate swings than they used to be.

Why it matters: A sharp rise in rates in early 2022 is the key reason the stock market is off to an ugly start. And with the Federal Reserve making noise about trying to keep inflation in check, rates could go higher.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal complicates Big Tech regulation

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Microsoft's surprise $68 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard is adding a fresh twist to the heated debate over which tech companies have monopolies that need to be reined in.

The big picture: The deal could force a question the company has happily ducked for a decade: whether its size and power make it just as deserving of regulatory scrutiny as its Big Tech rivals.