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Rick Perry dampens prospects of power grid emergency request

Rick Perry gestures to the crowd while speaking
Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Photo By Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday his agency will soon decide whether to approve a request to boost economically struggling coal and nuclear power plants.

Between the lines: His remarks dampened prospects that the Trump administration will move to keep a string of these plants open in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

“[The request] may not be the way that we decide is the most appropriate, the most efficient way to address this. It’s not the only way."
Perry at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit in New York

Why it matters: The approval of an emergency order request by utility FirstEnergy Solutions matters for two reasons:

  1. It’s unprecedented in the history of the arcane Energy Department provision, and most independent experts say approving it would be a huge intervention into the competitive power market.
  2. Approving the order would be an explicit way President Trump can show he’s reviving the coal and nuclear industries, a campaign promise.

What’s next: Bob Murray, the CEO of privately-held coal producer Murray Energy, will speak at the same conference on Tuesday at noon ET. The Energy Department denied a similar request by his company last year. Expect fireworks on this topic and more, given Murray will be in a crowd of executives whose companies are largely built around the evolution away from coal.