With winter fast approaching, the United States may be headed toward a nightmare scenario where hundreds of thousands of households find themselves without power as frigid temperatures set in as a result of the Biden administration’s war on fossil fuels.
Regional electricity providers are reportedly “begging” the Biden administration to delay the planned retirement of fossil fuel plants as renewable energy sources fall woefully short of meeting current energy demands. The warning comes as Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency is considering a rule that would force natural gas- and coal-fired plants to reduce emissions by 90 percent before 2040 – a demand that would force most to shut down operations entirely.
Lanny Nickell, the executive vice president of Southwest Power Pool, which operates in 14 states, has said it is time “to slow down on the removal” of fossil-fuel power plants. Meanwhile, Tri-State Chief Operating Officer Barry Ingold suggested that wind and solar still need “back up” from fossil fuels. “As we’re taking coal plants offline, our challenge is going to be can you build a gas plant that bridges that gap?” Ingold added.
Dr. Hans Vollmueller, a former Swiss energy policy specialist who advised several European governments, has called Biden’s planned shift to renewables a “gargantuan task” which involves “not just upgrading the power grid, but building it anew with different technologies.”
Even Biden’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seems to understand how unrealistic and risky Biden’s plan is.
In a statement that went almost completely unnoticed by the mainstream media in May, FERC Commissioner Mark Christie said that the United States “is heading for a reliability crisis” in energy production.
“I do not use the term ‘crisis’ for melodrama because it accurately describes what we are facing,” Christie wrote. He also pointed to large backlogs of renewable projects waiting for approval, “cascading retirements” of fossil fuels plants, and an alarming lack of investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas plants.
In its 2023 Global Outlook, Exxon Mobile concluded that in order to meet energy demand, fossil fuels would have to remain “a critical component of a global energy system through 2050,” with coal – the biggest energy bogeyman according to the left – accounting for at least 14 percent of energy production.
Yet despite these dire warnings from industry experts, the Biden administration has continued to pour resources into wind and solar energy projects while taxing and regulating fossil fuels into oblivion.
Currently, the U.S. grid in most cases generates a surplus of energy thanks to fossil fuels. When demand increases, power plants can easily increase power production to meet it.
But as wind and solar become more ubiquitous, the ability to boost supply to meet demand is disappearing. Wind and solar plants can’t make the wind blow any harder or the Sun shine any brighter. They are at the mercy of the weather, and thus so are the American households that rely on them.
The supply crunch is set to become even worse amid Biden’s incessant push to force as many Americans as possible into electric vehicles. Even at the current pace of EV adoption, which is seemingly set to accelerate in the years ahead, the country would need to increase its power production by 10 percent just to keep the lights on and everyone’s EV charged.
Biden has claimed that his administration has a plan that will add more than 47,000 gigawatt-miles of transmission lines by 2035 to meet this added demand. But given that it took 17 years to check all the bureaucratic boxes to commence a project with less than two percent of that capacity, this goal seems borderline fantastical.
One potential solution that the Biden administration has steadfastly ignored is nuclear power. Despite the fact that nuclear is exponentially safer than coal, natural gas, and hydroelectric power generation on a per-unit basis, while also having a relatively minimal impact on the environment, the Biden administration has practically halted the mining of nuclear fuel.
Even if Americans can get enough energy, it’s going to cost them. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity prices rose by 11 percent in 2022 and are expected to rise another 4 percent this year. That increase has translated into the average family spending $2,800 more per year in energy costs on average.
Much of this cost increase is due to the fact that new renewable power projects are enormously expensive. According to Utility Dive, the cost to connect wind and solar power plants to the grid is “sharply higher than for natural gas-fired power plants.”
The cost of new regulations added by the Biden administration have also caused prices to skyrocket. Overall, the average cost to connect a new power plant to the grid soared by 728 percent from 2020 to 2022. Consumers are feeling that increase directly in their checkbook.
With the Biden administration showing no signs of heeding the warnings of energy industry experts, the United States could be headed for a worst-case scenario.
In 2021, the failure of renewable power sources in part led to mass power outages in Texas during the winter months that left more than 240 people dead. Without a serious course correction, such tragedies may become commonplace in the years ahead.
Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.
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