When the Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ricky Perry, a former Republican governor of Texas, ordered an electric grid reliability report in April, the renewables industry was concerned that it was an effort to emphasize the importance of “baseload power” like coal. At the same time it was concerned it would fault wind and solar power for not producing power at all times. But this might not be the case—at least if a draft of the report reportedly obtained by Bloomberg—is accurate.
"The power system is more reliable today due to better planning, market discipline, and better operating rules and standards," Bloomberg, quoted from the draft report.
"Costly environmental regulations and subsidized renewable generation have exacerbated base-load power plant retirements. However, those factors played minor roles compared to the long-standing drop in electricity demand relative to previous expectation and years of low electric prices driven by high natural gas availability,” Bloomberg said the draft stated.
If language like that is in the final report, it will reaffirm the findings of numerous recent reports from renewable energy advocates who commissioned grid reliability reports of their own. They had beseeched the DOE to make the review open and transparent, but DOE did not respond to their requests.
When Perry issued the request for the 60-day review on April 14, he said that critical "baseload" energy generators like nuclear and coal-fired power plants were being put at risk by renewables. He cited the incentives for renewable energy as one reason coal and nuclear plants were losing favor and said renewable energy was making the electric grid less reliable. The report was originally slated for release in June, but its full release was delayed numerous times.
Meanwhile reenwable energy advocates appreciated that Perry chose Alison Silverstein to participate in writing the study. She's an energy efficiency advocate from Texas. CleanTechnica also observed that Perry has made many pro-renewable energy moves even as President Donald Trump (R) has made other pro-coal moves.
Independent reports found that as grid operators and utilities have modernized the grid and brought more clean energy online, from wind and solar to natural gas, it’s made the grid more stable and lowered the cost of electricity for consumers. A trend that’s expected to continue as the costs of wind and solar continue to come down.
"Grid operators are using technologies, standards and practices to assure that they can continue operating the grid reliably,” Bloomberg reported the study found.
Two people familiar with the report, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations, confirmed the early conclusions though cautioned they were subject to change. It is customary for administration officials to put their own stamp on reports prepared by career staff at federal agencies.Tweet