Power Shortages Coming Soon to America

Power Shortages Coming Soon to America
The US and Texas flags fly in front of high-voltage transmission towers in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 21, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Naveen Athrappully
Updated:
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Existing power plants are projected to retire at a faster pace than installations of new units, and dependence on renewable projects are threatening widespread power shortages, according to a new report by regional power transmission company PJM Interconnection.

PJM analysis shows that 40 gigawatts (GW) of existing power generation is at risk of retirement by 2030, accounting for 21 percent of its current installed capacity. Meanwhile, 290 GW worth of new power supply is seeking to connect to PJM’s grid. But 94 percent of this power supply is made up of renewable energy projects that tend to only have a completion rate of 5 percent. This casts doubt on the ability of new power supply to replace old supply. PJM covers 13 eastern states and the District of Columbia.

PJM also forecasts power demand growth of 1.4 percent annually over the next decade. Certain individual zones might even show demand growth as high as 7 percent per year due to the expansion of clusters of data centers as well as overall electrification.

The retirement of existing power generation combined with the growing demand for power will create a supply gap.

According to the report, the pace of new power generation addition will likely be “insufficient” to fill this supply gap by 2030. As such, the completion rates of upcoming projects will have to “increase significantly” to maintain necessary reserve margins, it said.

Decline in Reserve Margins

Reserve margin refers to the amount of unused available power capacity of an electric power system. A reserve margin of 10 percent would mean that an entity has excess capacity amounting to 10 percent of peak demand.

According to PJM projections, the reserve margin could fall from 26 percent in 2023 to 15 percent by 2030 even in the best-case scenario. Reserve margins are critical during times of adverse weather conditions and periods of high demand. A decline suggests less reliability of power.

“The lopsided energy transition is resulting mainly from Biden’s energy policies and state mandates driving fossil fuel generation to shut down as renewable and storage projects are being developed. These are policy choices by political leaders and utilities are responding as directed,” stated a Mar. 2nd analysis of the PJM report by the Institute for Energy Research (IER).
Since PJM usually generates a power surplus owing to its large fossil-fuel generation sources, the entity sells excess power to neighboring grids. As such, the retirement of 21 percent of the current installed capacity by 2030 might potentially affect the power situation in these regions as well, it stated.

Renewable Agenda Effects

In an article at The Epoch Times on Jan. 12, Kevin Stocklin, a film producer who made the documentary “The Shadow State,” which investigated the environmental, social, governance (ESG) industry, warned that government policies are pushing more Americans onto the U.S. grid at a time when the grid is becoming “increasingly unstable” due to climate change agenda.

The federal government is providing subsidies for electric vehicles and even contemplating banning gas stoves. Several state governments are passing laws limiting the use of oil and gas while constructing new homes while some have set dates when gasoline-powered cars would be banned.

In the corporate space, the ESG movement is pressuring companies to adhere to a zero-emissions agenda, he pointed out.

“All of this makes Americans more dependent on the electric grid at a time when utilities are accelerating the closure of coal and gas-fired plants, leaving the grid increasingly reliant on intermittent wind and solar power. This has sparked warnings from utility infrastructure experts that America’s dash toward renewables could be driving our electric grid toward instability,” Stocklin writes.

In its 10-year outlook (pdf) analyzing the impact on energy reliability during the energy transition phase, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), which seeks to ensure the reliability of bulk power systems in the region, warned of a “high risk of shortfall” in energy during peak conditions in some areas of America.

The Indiana-based Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. is projecting a shortfall of 1,300 megawatts this summer that will continue to grow over the next 10 years as coal, nuclear, and natural gas generation “retire faster than replacement resources are connecting.”

If the current power situation is not analyzed properly, and inadequate politically driven policies are adopted, the United States could soon be heading in a similar direction like that of Europe. Homemade bad decisions one after the other created a crisis that was partially averted due to favorable weather this year.
Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.
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