Accelerated retirement of U.S. coal, nuke plants has potential risks –NERC

Dec 18 (Reuters) - The North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC), the U.S. watchdog for the electricity grid, said on Tuesday that new pipelines and power lines would be required to meet power demands if there are large-scale retirements of coal and nuclear power plants.

“Large-scale retirements would likely create the need for electric and natural gas infrastructure, expedited buildout of new generation and increased use of demand-side resources,” NERC said in a report.

The shift to natural gas generation could leave the bulk power system vulnerable to fuel delivery risks in areas where pipeline service does not exist, the report said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been advocating for steps to stem a surge in coal and nuclear plant retirements in recent years, arguing that more shutdowns would leave the country less able to bounce back from disruptions caused by storms, physical attacks, and hackers.

The report could help the Trump administration to justify subsidizing the continued operation of coal and nuclear power plants, which are being hurt by low natural gas prices and the growing use of renewables to produce power, though critics said it mostly looked at extreme scenarios of shutdowns.

Source: Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman and Sumita Layek in Bengaluru Editing by Phil Berlowitz