Moving Closer to an Energy Crisis
By Steve Fiscor
January 4, 2021 - As this edition was going to press, media outlets had called the election for U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden, but none of the states had certified the election and President Donald Trump was contesting the results, filing lawsuits and demanding recounts. At this point, it appears Biden has won, but 2020 has been a whacky year and it’s not over yet. Whoever takes up residence at the White House next year will face some serious problems as far as electric reliability.
In the September edition, readers might recall that in this column I wrote about the ridiculous situation in California. The state is mandating all electric cars by 2035, but it can’t keep the lights on in 2020. It didn’t take long for the industry to respond. Paul N. Cicio, president of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA), wrote a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission urging it to investigate the situation and start collecting policy recommendations needed to restore California’s electric reliability. The IECA also asked the commission to investigate the failure of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) to act preemptively to protect reliability.
“With full knowledge of California’s long-term failure to act to address obvious problems facing reliability due in large part to significant additions of intermittent resources, they have failed to comply with their congressional mandate,” Cicio wrote. “Manufacturers have little confidence that California will act to put in place durable policies that will deliver reliable power without commission action. Most manufacturers operate 24/7 and require reliable supplies of power.” California has more than 44,500 manufacturing sites that consume approximately 19% of the state’s power. California has the fifth highest retail electricity rates in the country at 19.44 cents per kWh.
Renewables sources have created quite a bit of havoc for the market. In addition to unreliability and unfair competitive pricing due to subsidies, they are driving up costs for transmission and distribution (See Dateline Washington, p. 10). Costs are already soaring and few have factored the New Green Deal into the discussion.
Pennsylvania, which recently supplanted Florida as the most challenged electorate, is another state flirting with disaster. The National Mining Association (NMA) reported that Gov. Tom Wolf is trying to circumvent the Pennsylvania General Assembly and push the commonwealth into the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The NMA said joining the RGGI would impose a $2.36 billion tax on fossil fuel power plants in Pennsylvania over the next 10 years, which could wipe out jobs and drive power prices higher. Virginia also fell victim to the RGGI. This type of behavior would be expected from wealthy northeastern states, but not by those with a rich history of mining and manufacturing. Common sense no longer rules in these jurisdictions.
Steve Fiscor is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of Coal Age.