(National Sentinel) Energy: The Trump administration has warned repeatedly that accelerating closures of coal-fired and nuclear power plants could lead to widespread and socially disruptive power outages, and a newly-released study supports that.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), an international nonprofit entity that examines and promotes grid reliability among utility companies in the U.S. and Canada, said in its 44-page report, Generation Retirement Scenario, that an aggressive rate of coal-fired and nuclear plant closures is putting grid reliability at risk.
The Daily Caller reported:
Grid reliability refers to the power system’s ability to deliver electricity at the rate it is demanded. If electric utilities are not able to meet demand at any given time, the result would be a blackout for the affected region. While more traditional power generators like coal and nuclear plants can generate electricity at a constant rate, renewable energy technology, such as wind and solar, produces electricity at more intermittent and weaker intervals.
For its reliability assessment, NERC performed a “stress test” scenario. The hypothetical situation identified nuclear and coal plants that are at-risk of retirement by 2025, and accelerated the timeframe to 2022. In the accelerated timeline, NERC found areas that were at risk of failing to meet peak electricity demand.
“In nearly all areas assessed, large-scale retirements would likely create the need for electric and natural gas infrastructure, expedited buildout of new generation and increased use of demand-side resources,” said John Moura, NERC’s director of reliability assessment, in the Tuesday report. “These findings underscore the challenge and the need for risk-informed planning.”
The Trump administration has suggested spending money to support nuclear and coal-fired facilities in order to avoid outages, but these plans have been opposed by environmental groups.
According to the Energy Information Agency, “as of December 31, 2017, there were about 8,652 power plants in the United States that have operational generators with a combined nameplate electricity generation capacity of at least 1 megawatt (MW).”
Plants take several years to build, much of which is caused by government red tape and environmental regulations. The Trump administration has been working to shorten the process.
“Opponents are sharpening their knives, but after the fuss and tumble subsides, it will become clear that the president’s move is grounded in sensible and necessary planning. That’s because there are actual question marks hanging over the U.S. power grid right now as to whether it can function reliably over the next 20 years and beyond,” MarketWatch noted in June.
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