Potential Repeat of Polar Vortex, Threat of Blackouts Underscore Need for Visionary Policy That Says #Yes2Energy

August 29, 2014

Administration’s Harsh New Regulations Taking Affordable Power Offline 

The Polar Vortex last winter sent temperatures plummeting, breaking record lows across the country and forcing Americans to crank up the heat to stay warm. As the surging demand strained the aging infrastructure, energy prices soared further straining families and businesses. Despite the flaws in the delivery system that last year’s harsh winter revealed, the administration continues its pursuit of new regulations for coal-fired power plants, which threaten to take more affordable energy offline. We should be embracing, not shunning, our nation’s most abundant and reliable source of affordable electricity.

A recent analysis by PJM Interconnection, a regional grid operator, suggests that a repeat of last winter’s deep freeze could lead to numerous electricity blackouts throughout the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic. The Washington Examiner reports, “PJM noted the situation could become more dire under a ‘rapid transition’ from coal to natural gas.”

Last winter, Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) sounded the alarm, stating, “The unusually cold weather we have experienced across the nation underscores the importance of affordable and reliable electricity. Under the Obama administration, electricity access is being jeopardized by a number of already finalized or pending measures raising its cost. This includes pending greenhouse gas regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency that will make it illegal to build a coal plant in America.”

If last winter made one thing clear, it is that we desperately need a visionary new policy to ensure reliable access to affordable energy. A key to preventing blackouts and keeping electricity affordable is Pillar II of full committee Chairman Fred Upton’s Architecture of Abundance: Maintaining Diverse Electricity Generation. IHS also released a report in July that echoed the important role America’s fuel diversity plays in ensuring access to affordable and reliable electricity, and warned actions to limit generation sources could increase price volatility, drive up electricity rates, and threaten jobs and industrial competitiveness.

To learn more about Upton’s plan to build the infrastructure needed to fulfill our energy potential and unleash the many benefits of America’s energy abundance, visit: http://energycommerce.house.gov/yes2energy. To avoid potential blackouts, it is time to pursue policies that say #Yes2Energy.

August 27, 2014

Winter blackouts could hit Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, regional grid operator warns

A repeat of last winter's deep freeze could lead to electricity blackouts in a clutch of states spanning the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic as proposed environmental regulations propel a switch toward natural gas-fired power.

PJM Interconnection, a regional grid operator, proposed new measures aimed at ensuring it doesn't again flirt with losing 22 percent of its electricity capacity as it did during the "polar vortex" in early January. Echoing the concerns of Republicans and some centrist Democrats who have admonished the Obama administration for rules that would restrain the use of coal-fired power, PJM noted the situation could become more dire under a "rapid transition" from coal to natural gas.

"Last winter’s generator performance — when up to 22 percent of PJM capacity was unavailable due to cold weather-related problems — highlighted a potentially significant reliability issue," it said. "PJM’s analysis shows that a comparable rate of generator outages in the winter of 2015/2016, coupled with extremely cold temperatures and expected coal retirements, would likely prevent PJM from meeting its peak load requirements."

The 2016 timetable is key because that is when new regulations designed to limit mercury and air toxics go into effect. Those rules will take many older, dirtier coal- and oil-fired power plants offline in the following years. The EPA says the rule will deliver $90 billion in health benefits and prevent 11,000 premature deaths annually once fully implemented at a $9.6 billion annual cost to business. …

But the more conservative members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have issued warnings about how new environmental regulations could hinder electricity reliability for several years.

"Just as the commission does not have expertise in regulating air emissions, I would not expect the EPA to have expertise on the intricacies of electric markets and the reliability implications of transforming the electric generation sector," Philip Moeller, a Republican commissioner at FERC, which regulates the electric grid, said in written testimony for a July House hearing.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has held a number of hearings on the topic, and some senators have voiced their concerns. …

Read the article online HERE.