Financially struggling FirstEnergy Corp. wants Energy Secretary Rick Perry to make sweeping use of emergency powers to keep the companies' coal-fired and nuclear plants running and guarantee higher revenues.
Why it matters: It's a new front in the intense policy and political fight over power plants facing heavy pressure from cheap natural gas, renewables, and stagnant demand.
It forces a big question, which is how far the Trump administration will go to help coal and nuclear plants at risk of closing.
Why this sounds familiar: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in January rejected Perry's push for new power market rules that would aid companies with coal and nuclear plants in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic.
The gang is all here: It drew instant pushback from the spectrum of interests that attacked Perry's FERC move, ranging from the American Petroleum Institute to the Sierra Club.
- PJM Interconnection, the regional market operator, also attacked the request, even as PJM weighs its own market pricing changes.
- PJM contests FirstEnergy's argument that past and looming closures constitute an emergency that puts the region's "system resiliency" at risk. The company's filing says PJM has shown "little urgency."
One level deeper: FirstEnergy wants DOE to aggressively alter market conditions in PJM, which covers all or parts of 13 states and contains dozens of coal and nuclear plants.
- Their filing says DOE should order PJM to ensure plants are compensated for the "full benefits they provide to energy markets and the public at large, including fuel security and diversity."
ICYMI: On Wednesday, FirstEnergy said it plans to shut down three nuclear plants in the coming years.