How would you like to flick on your wall switch, only to find out you have no juice? The good news? Thanks to Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the nationwide cost for electricity could rise a staggering 12% to 17% over 15 years. The bad news? Thanks to Obama’s Clean Power Plan, you might not be able to get power when you need it most.
A nonprofit, nonpartisan body of experts in the engineering and operation of power grids warns of the risk of long-term reliability of some areas of the U.S. grid. Because of rapid shifts to renewable and natural–gas generation, along with forced EPA regulatory closures of coal-fueled power plants, the Midwest, New York and Texas already have dangerously low levels of “reserve margins.” Read more here from Kevin Cramer, a U.S. congressman from North Dakota, on why we should be afraid of the EPA as well as the dark.
Rep. Cramer writes:
The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), a regulatory authority that monitors the U.S. and Canadian power systems, released a study on Nov. 12 concluding that the long-term reliability of the U.S. grid in some areas is already at risk. Because of rapid shifts to renewable and natural-gas generation, combined with closures of coal-fueled power plants due to existing Environmental Protection Agency regulations, “reserve margins” in the Midwest, New York and Texas have reached dangerously low levels—meaning an increased likelihood of brownouts and blackouts in the coldest weeks of winter and the hottest days of summer.
This analysis of the grid’s long-term reliability left out the potential impact of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would force even more coal-fueled power plants to close. A separate NERC report, released one week earlier on Nov. 5, pointed out that the plan’s compliance deadlines for reducing carbon emissions were not realistic when considering how long it takes to build new gas pipelines and electricity transmission lines necessary for new and existing renewable and natural-gas plants to serve customers previously served by coal plants.
More precisely, NERC pointed out that the EPA’s estimates for continuous 1.5% energy efficiency gains each year are unsubstantiated, specifically stating, “this sustainability is not supported by any peer-reviewed or technical studies of energy efficiency potential.” This creates an incentive to close even more coal-fueled power plants to meet carbon-dioxide reduction requirements not actually attained by energy efficiency, posing even greater risks to the availability of electricity throughout the U.S.
These warnings are worth paying attention to. NERC is not a special-interest group. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan body of experts in the engineering and operation of power grids. They are the architects of the miracle we take for granted every time we flip a switch and electricity instantaneously appears from generating sources hundreds of miles away.
EPA personnel are environmental regulators, not electrical engineers, and have no experience in or knowledge of the construction and operation of power grids. But it is inexcusable that the agency failed to heed the advice of those who do have such expertise. The administration’s Clean Power Plan will remake an enormous sector of the U.S. economy, affecting almost every industry and every consumer. It is irresponsible in the extreme that this plan has been put forth without due consideration of the risk it poses to the reliability of the nation’s electricity supply.
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