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The White House has made several efforts to prop up failing coal and nuclear power plants. The newest is a presidential directive telling the Energy Department to provide a complex lifeline. That came out Friday, but power grid operators and other key actors in the nation’s electricity system are saying they were blindsided by the news. In the dark, as it were. But one thing seems clear: if this goes through, it would upend the market-based, supply and demand system we have now in the electricity system.

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Follow Scott Tong at @tongscott