The Power Grid Faces ‘Dire Consequences’ As Coal & Gas Retire
Power companies in Western states like Wyoming continue to shut down coal and natural gas as wind and solar farms are constructed.
Is this a transition to reliable energy?
That was the question before the US House.
FERC Commissioner Mark Christie explained to the committee that America’s power grid is facing,
very dire consequences due to the ongoing retirement of coal and natural gas power plants.
Below is a video clip from Commissioner Christie's testimony.
US House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Oversight of FERC: Adhering to a Mission of Affordable & Reliable Energy for America
June 13, 2023
FERC Commissioner Christie:
I think we’re heading for potentially very dire consequences, potentially catastrophic consequences in the United States in terms of the reliability of our grid, and I think that the basic reason is that we’re facing a shortfall of power supply.
You know the term we use is resource adequacy, but what we’re really talking about is potentially a shortfall in power supply.
You have to remember about the grid.
The grid has to have power being fed into it every second of every minute of every hour of every day to keep the lights on.
You can’t store it up and bring it out the next day. Because of that you have to have a power supply that is feeding into the grid on a continuous basis.
We can’t tolerate shortages because shortages mean the lights go out. So what’s going on now and what’s the threat to reliability?
In summary, what the threat is is this. We are facing cascading retirements of dispatchable resources, specifically coal and to a lesser extent gas.
And, the problem with losing that many dispatchable resources is you’re losing the supply that is going to keep the lights on.
The problem is not the addition of wind and solar.
The problem is the subtraction of coal and gas and other dispatchable resources which are the ones we need during this transition to keep the lights on.
That’s the fundamental problem.
As the commissioner was speaking the retirement of America’s coal-fired power plants is accelerating.
The U.S. is on track to cut its coal-based power capacity in half by 2026 according to an Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
Utilities have been dialing back output at coal-fired power plants still in operation.
“So the pace of coal use is declining faster than the pace of decline in coal [power generation] capacity,” (WyoFile).