US grid operators warn Biden’s power plant crackdown could trigger ‘significant power shortages’

The nation’s largest power grid operators, which collectively provide power to 154 million Americans, joined a chorus of voices expressing concern about the Biden administration’s crackdown on gas-fired plants. In joint comments filed Tuesday with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), four major grid operators — PJM Interconnection, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas and Southwest Power Pool — stated that under the proposal announced earlier this year, grid reliability will “dwindle to concerning levels.” The four nonpartisan entities operate across 2 million square miles in all or parts of 30 states. “As the penetration of renewable resources continues to increase, the grid will need to rely even more on generation capable of providing critical reliability attributes,” they wrote in their comment letter. “With continued and potentially accelerated retirements of dispatchable generation, supply of these reliability attributes will dwindle to concerning levels.” “The Joint ISOs/RTOs are also concerned about the chilling impact of the Proposed Rule on investment required to retain and maintain existing units that are needed to provide key attributes and grid services before the compliance date required by the rule,” they added. BIDEN ADMINISTRATION RIGGED INTERNAL ANALYSIS, SOFTENING BLOW OF POWER PLANT REGULATIONS: REPORT The grid operators further warned that if carbon capture technology isn’t developed as quickly as EPA anticipates it will be, the U.S. would be left without sufficient power supply. Carbon capture technology is being used at just one large-scale facility in the world, the Boundary Dam Power Station in Canada. “If the technology and associated infrastructure fail to timely materialize, then the future supply of compliant generation — given forced retirements of non-compliant generation — would be far below what is needed to serve power demand, increasing the likelihood of significant power shortages,” the operators continued. WHITE HOUSE ECO COUNCIL AT ODDS OVER TECHNOLOGY CENTRAL TO BIDEN’S GREEN GOALS In May, the EPA unveiled the power plant regulations targeting fossil fuel-fired power plant emissions as part of the administration’s broader climate agenda. In its announcement, the agency said the plan “would avoid” 617 million metric tons of carbon pollution through 2042 via new standards forcing plants to either utilize carbon capture technology or shut down. According to the agency’s analysis, the proposal would force U.S. electric generation derived by coal plants without carbon capture to decline 67% by 2030 and 100% by 2035, while coal plants with carbon capture will increase 29% and 13%, respectively, the analysis also showed.  During a Senate hearing earlier this year, all four members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expressed concern about the early retirement of coal-fired power generation. Commissioner James Danly said he feared the impacts of forced retirements “are going to be catastrophic.” Months earlier, the top U.S. grid watchdog said the country was at risk of more capacity shortfalls because of such retirements. “EPA’s proposal is the wrong plan at a critical time for our nation’s energy future,” Jim Matheson, the CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), said Tuesday. “It is unrealistic, unachievable, and will reduce key generating resources just as Americans are increasing their reliance on electricity.” “The energy future outlined by the EPA will result in more blackouts, higher costs, and greater uncertainty for Americans,” he continued. “And it will magnify today’s reliability challenges with grave consequences for an already stressed electric grid. When you find yourself in a hole, the first step is to stop digging. The EPA needs to put down their shovel.” REPUBLICANS TAKE ACTION TO OVERTURN BIDEN’S POWER PLANT CRACKDOWN NRECA, a trade group that represents nearly 900 local electric cooperatives across 56% of the country, filed comments on behalf of its members Tuesday. The group said the proposal was “unrealistic and unachievable.” America’s Power, a coal power trade group, also blasted the EPA’s plan, adding that it contains “fundamental legal flaws and technical deficiencies” that can only be fixed by axing the proposal altogether. And a coalition of 21 states led by West Virginia filed comments similarly warning about the legal implications of the rule. “This proposal also strips states of important discretion while using technologies that don’t work in the real world — so it sets up the plants for failing to meet the standards dictated in the rule, leaving the plants with no other option but to cease operations,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement.  “This is designed to scare more coal-fired power plants into retirement — the goal of the Biden administration’s so-called green new deal,” he said. “That tactic is unacceptable, and this rule appears to utterly fly in the face of the rule of law.”
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