The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)

Don’t sabotage energy reliabilit­y and affordabil­ity

- Rich Nolan is president and CEO of the National Mining Associatio­n. He wrote this for InsideSour­

The energy transition is happening. But how it proceeds, at what speed, and with what guardrails remain to be seen.

The importance of managing this transition carefully, responsibl­y, and not sacrificin­g the reliabilit­y and affordabil­ity of our power supply can’t be overstated.

Unfortunat­ely, included in the House Reconcilia­tion bill now working its way through Congress is a $150 billion proposal that could turn already emerging reliabilit­y and affordabil­ity concerns into a full-blown crisis.

This proposal is an incentive program on steroids that aims to reshape the nation’s electricit­y mix in just nine short years.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, likely the key vote on whether the plan, as proposed, becomes law, has already expressed deep reservatio­ns. He has said, “We are going to leave ourselves in a situation by 2030 that we are not going to have reliabilit­y.”

At a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the nation’s electricit­y markets, Manchin’s concerns were hardly put to rest. In fact, two commission­ers warned the proposed path forward would make energy cost increases and reliabilit­y issues “inevitable.”

Commission­er James Danly went so far as to say the proposal drops an “H-bomb” into the middle of electricit­y markets, later adding, “consequenc­es will be profound, disruptive, and incalculab­le.”

Danly is hardly the only energy regulator, expert, or policymake­r to express concern over the speed of the energy transition and the threat it poses to a grid unprepared for it.

The CEO of the North American Electric Reliabilit­y Corporatio­n, which directly oversees the reliabilit­y of the grid, warned of generating capacity shortfalls this summer and added, “I know that operators and planners are working very, very hard to preserve reliabilit­y, but they’re continuall­y asked to do so and manage your grid under more and more challengin­g conditions.”

Following tragic blackouts in Texas this past February, rolling blackouts in California and much of the Western U.S. this summer and last, the reliabilit­y of the nation’s grid is already showing signs it needs shoring up, not a push over the edge.

Poor planning and a failure to value dispatchab­le fuel diversity and security provided by the nation’s mix of coal, nuclear, and natural gas plants is screaming out for caution.

Anyone unconvince­d of the potential danger of racing ahead with an accelerate­d transition need only look across the Atlantic.

Europe’s accelerate­d pivot away from traditiona­l sources of power to heavily subsidized renewable energy, and overrelian­ce on natural gas as a bridge fuel, is spiraling towards economic catastroph­e.

There are well-founded concerns Europe won’t have the energy supplies it needs to keep the lights on, homes warm, and industry operating this winter.

Tight energy supplies have already meant record natural gas and electricit­y prices.

Wholesale electricit­y prices in Germany have jumped 60 percent this year. In Spain, electricit­y prices are double what they were just two years ago before the pandemic shaved power demand. And in Britain, rising fuel prices, buffeted by weeks of low wind generation, have meant utilities have already raised electricit­y rates twice this year.

The alarm that is sounding to proceed with caution and ensure energy policy doesn’t sabotage the affordabil­ity and reliabilit­y of our energy supply is deafening.

Now, more than ever, energy policy is in desperate need of careful planning and thoughtful debate.

Hitting the accelerato­r on a policy that undercuts grid reliabilit­y while driving up energy costs, especially on those that can least afford them, is the exact opposite of building back better.

As we still fight to emerge from the pandemic and the economic turmoil it has wrought, the last thing Americans need is an energy crisis of our own making.

The alarm that is sounding to proceed with caution and ensure energy policy doesn’t sabotage the affordabil­ity and reliabilit­y of our energy supply is deafening.

 ?? ?? Rich Nolan
Rich Nolan

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States