Blackouts and Power Grid: The Looming Energy Crisis in America
The Washington Post recently published an article warning of a summer of blackouts and a wheezing power grid that leaves states at risk. However, this issue is not new, as under-investment in new baseload capacity and reliance on unreliable and unpredictable wind and solar have been promoted for the last 20 years by Green New Deal supporters.
The Real Problem with America’s Power Grid
The Post’s article states that some of the coal plants regulators assumed would keep running for another year or two are instead coming offline. Some plant operators are choosing to shut down rather than invest in upgrades for coal plants that do not fit with states’ and the federal government’s long-term goals for clean energy. However, this policy has led to a shrinking baseload capacity all over the country, putting areas like the Midwest, the Rocky Mountain states, and even Texas at high risk of energy emergencies during peak summer conditions.
Balancing Clean Energy Goals and Grid Reliability
While the addition of new wind and solar energy sources is positive, they are useless in a weather or energy emergency, as they cannot provide firm, dispatchable capacity. This fact became apparent during the Texas blackouts in February of last year, where wind and solar were the first generation sources to drop off the grid during the freeze. Despite this, policymakers in Texas and across the country continue to bet the energy future on renewables and not much else, which is a slow-rolling recipe for disaster.
The Impact of Energy Insecurity
America’s grid is in a deteriorating situation, which has the potential to create disastrous blackouts in the future, as we are already short of capacity in 2022. The situation becomes even more critical when considering the expected growth in the electric vehicles industry, as we will have to double the generating capacity on the nation’s grids by 2035 to accommodate EV growth targets.
The Need for Baseload Capacity
To avoid energy emergencies and power grid blackouts, America needs new, reliable, 24/7 baseload generating capacity fired by natural gas, coal, and nuclear. However, the policymakers’ push towards renewables has led to a lack of investment in baseload capacity, leaving America vulnerable to blackouts and energy insecurity.
In conclusion, America’s power grid is in crisis due to under-investment in baseload capacity and reliance on renewables. While the addition of renewable energy sources is a step forward, policymakers must recognize the importance of reliable, dispatchable, 24/7 baseload capacity to ensure energy security and avoid blackouts.
About the author: David Blackmon previously spent 37 years in the oil and natural gas industry in a variety of roles — the last 22 years engaging in public policy issues at the state and national levels.