When Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed a plan to subsidize coal and nuclear plants for reliably supplying electricity to the power grid, he scrambled the usual alliances that exist on energy issues.

Oil and gas representatives teamed with solar and wind lobbyists to urge caution on what they regarded as a rushed proposal. Ex-Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner commissioners from both parties formally denounced Perry’s plan as a “significant step backward” that would distort electricity markets.

But support for Perry’s proposal is coming from corners usually aligned with Democrats.

“The importance of these plants remaining operational cannot be overstated,” Tim Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, wrote in a letter to the FERC, the independent agency that will decide whether to implement the proposal. “We have seen the devastation that occurs in our communities when major employers leave a region.”

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