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Delaware Public Advocate urges Trump administration to deny FirstEnergy bailout

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Delaware’s Public Advocate on Thursday sent a letter urging the Trump administration to deny a request for emergency bailouts of coal and nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions.

The Ohio-based regional energy supplier recently filed for bankruptcy and a request to the federal Department of Energy for subsidies. These funds would come out of ratepayers’ electric bills in the PJM Interconnection region, which includes Delaware.

“Not only has FirstEnergy not shown why coal and nuclear subsidies are needed, but they are trying to circumvent the deliberative process that is ongoing at PJM,” said Delaware Public Advocate Drew Slater. “In a free market, price is a key determinant in business decisions. As coal and nuclear plants become uneconomic, ratepayers should not be forced to prop up old and inefficient technology just to protect the profits of a big power company.”

Slater isn’t alone in speaking out against the bailout. The American Petroleum Institute has urged the Trump administration in a letter to “let markets work” and deny the request.

FirstEnergy’s main argument for a bailout is ensuring stability in the power supply. But PJM determined that the closure of the supplier’s plants would not affect the reliability of the electric grid.

“Given that PJM has stated the system remains reliable, and absent a true emergency need, which has not been demonstrated, to subsidize uneconomic coal and nuclear plants, I ask that FirstEnergy’s request for an emergency order be denied,” Slater said.

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