In what could be an important lifeline for Colstrip and its coal-fired power plants, President Donald Trump ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry Friday to "take immediate steps" to prevent the future closures of coal and nuclear power plants around the nation.
There is no environmental argument for keeping open coal plants, which are the most carbon-intensive form of power. At the same time, hackers from criminal groups and hostile regimes are growing increasingly sophisticated in how they target weak spots.
Under the Energy Department strategy, outlined in a memo obtained by Bloomberg News, the administration would invoke national defense needs - using authority granted under a pair of federal laws - to establish a strategic electric generation reserve and compel grid operators to buy electricity from at-risk plants.
The Department of Energy proposal would require grid operators to purchase electricity from a designated list of coal and nuclear plants over the course of two years.
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a major coal-mining state, on Friday praised Trump for carrying out what he said was his idea: "I am glad President Trump and his Administration are considering my idea to use the Defense Production Act to save coal-fired power plants with emissions controls and protect our national security", Manchin said.
"Too many of these fuel-secure plants have retired prematurely and many more have recently announced retirement", only to be replaced by less-secure, less-resilient natural gas and renewable power sources, the memo said.
Plane forced to make emergency landing over one passenger's "unbearable" body odour
The man was then handed over to a waiting ambulance and medical team, before the flight continued on to its destination. Transavia said the two sisters were involved in the brawl and have banned all four passengers from future flights.
Although controversial, President Trump's imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports could provide a much-needed boost to the coal industry.
The draft memo also states that U.S. Defense Department installations are nearly entirely dependent on the commercial grid, furthering the argument that a reliable electric system is critical, Bloomberg reported. Nationwide, BNEF said, two dozen nuclear plants - representing almost 33 gigawatts - are either scheduled to close or probably won't make money through 2021. The move would be one of the most direct efforts by Trump to make good on campaign promises to revive the nation's shrinking coal industry.
That didn't quell requests for help.
Opponents of the new plan contend the intervention is a solution in search of a problem and argue there are other ways to back up the grid.
"Unprecedented government intervention in the energy markets to support high-cost generation will hurt customers by taking more money out of their pockets rather than letting people keep more of what they earn", said Todd Snitchler of the American Petroleum Institute, the top lobbying group for the oil and gas industry. Tapping two statutes simultaneously also could give the administration more "legal room", Peskoe said.
"Uneconomic, dirty coal plants retiring does not represent a national security risk", Environmental Defense Fund director of federal energy policy and senior attorney Michael Panfil wrote on his blog.