U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has ordered a study of the U.S. electric grid which will examine if the country’s increasing reliance on wind, solar and other less reliable energy sources will hamper the grid in the future.
If it is shown that the less reliable energy sources are accelerating the retirement of coal and nuclear plants, yet at the same time those sources of energy are less reliable than coal, President Trump’s administration may develop new policies to favor coal.
The review will be completed this June.
One of the issues regulators foresee is that it will be increasingly difficult to balance national electric reliability with the different state policies that prioritize more popular wind and solar sources.
Bloomberg News recently reported that the Trump administration is concerned about the erosion of resources providing “baseload power” -- consistent, reliable electricity generated even when the sun isn’t shining and the winds aren’t blowing.
President Donald Trump is dismantling Obama-era policies that discouraged coal-fired power plants -- regulations Perry said destroyed jobs and threatened the grid in the future.
The administration is looking for other ways to keep coal plants online. Perry asked his staff to develop a plan for evaluating to what extent regulatory burdens, subsidies, and tax policies are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants. He also wants to know if wholesale energy markets adequately compensate some of the attributes that coal and nuclear plants bring to the table, such as on-site fuel supply, that strengthen grid resilience.
As governor of Texas, Perry presided over a massive expansion in wind power, driven in part by a requirement that the state derive some electricity from renewable sources.
Both New York and Illinois have approved zero-emission credits that would subsidize some nuclear power plants and keep them running despite stiff competition from plants burning cheap natural gas.