By MARTIN BECKENWALDThe Washington Post StaffDecember 20, 2018 8:35 a.m.
Washington (AP) President Donald Trump said Thursday he expects to sign an executive order that will provide more clarity for consumers in how to manage their electricity bills, while also boosting protections for rural communities that rely on coal and other fossil fuels.
The order would also give the White House more control over the federal budget, while providing more flexibility for states and territories to set their own rules.
“We’re going to have to go back to the states to figure out what they want to do and who they want the president to be involved in the decision-making process,” Trump said at a news conference at the White Senate in Washington.
“But I want to assure everybody that I want your power back.”
Trump is scheduled to sign the order, which would provide federal approval for any energy production, distribution and consumption tax credits for projects with a total annual economic value of more than $100 million.
That would be up from current rules that require states to set aside a certain amount for each project.
Under the proposal, projects with an average of more that $50 million in total value would be eligible for the tax credits, while those with a median value of less than $50,000 would not.
The White House also is proposing to allow states to impose a 15-percent surcharge on energy purchases for any project exceeding a certain threshold, which could be a key incentive for utilities to make investments in renewable energy.
The executive order is expected to be signed within days, and it will also give states more leeway to set rules on how they regulate and tax the power sector, as well as how to handle the financial fallout of an energy surge in the energy industry.
It will also allow the administration to use its own resources to oversee energy production and distribution.
The proposal was also designed to create a more efficient way for utilities and other entities to distribute power, including through more flexible rates and energy-efficient appliances and other devices.
The proposed order would apply to the electric power sector that has been the biggest source of federal energy production since the 1970s.
The Department of Energy has estimated that by 2030, the number of power plants with a combined capacity of at least 2,000 megawatts could reach 5.8 million megawatts, up from 1.7 million megaws now, according to an energy industry analysis.
The Trump administration has been working on the proposal for months, and has held more than two dozen meetings with state and local governments, energy companies and the electric utility industry.
The federal government has also been pushing for an increase in the production tax credit for states, which was last increased in 2021 to help low-income and rural residents.
But that credit has not been increased since 2017.