By James Osborne
July 2, 2018 - Lobbyists representing companies as diverse as Apple and Exxon Mobil have railed for months against President Donald Trump's call to bail out struggling coal and nuclear plants as likely to drive up U.S. power costs.
The question now is by how much, as Energy Secretary Rick Perry says his agency is assessing the economics of raising wholesale power costs for coal and nuclear plants.
"We don't have a dollar estimate at this particular point in time," he said last week during an appearance at the World Gas Conference in Washington, according to the news service Platts.
But how seriously the administration will take the cost assessment remains unclear, as Perry has repeatedly described the ongoing power plant closures as a national security matter that rises above power prices.
"The economics is secondary from my perspective," he said, during a meeting with reporters in Washington last week. "You have the potential to have some really chaotic events in the country. That is the Department of Energy's responsibility to make sure that does not happen. I look at this not unlike the decisions that get made at [the Department of Defense]."
That take has angered many Republicans, who worry Perry is doing the very thing he railed against as governor of Texas, using federal powers to favor one sector of the energy industry over another.
"We urge you to continue your efforts to reduce harmful government interference in the sector by rejecting unwarranted bailouts of energy companies under the guise of national security concerns," a coalition that includes Americans for Tax Reform and Taxpayers for Common Sense wrote in a letter to Perry.
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