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‘Market Reformers’ Scramble As Heat Wave Exposes Power Grid Vulnerability

“In New Jersey that’s dangerous. In South Carolina, it’s deadly.”

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When it comes to America’s long-term energy mix, warning lights are blinking red. The term used by the megawatt counters is “resource adequacy,” but for the rest of us it’s called “is your light switch working?

That, in a nutshell, has been the primum mobile of my energy policy for years: Keeping America’s lights on (and its motors humming) at the lowest possible cost for consumers. Typically, that involves minimizing the role of government … especially in my home state of South Carolina, where politically authored, bureaucrat-run command economic boondoggles have literally set billions of dollars on fire.

But it also involves keeping eco-radicals in check … especially when they are surreptitiously advancing (or attempting to advance) their agenda.

Clearly, there are compelling environmental obligations (a.k.a. stewardship) we must consider in charting a course for our shared energy future. And given these obligations to sustainability, should we throw renewables into our evolving energy generation mix? Of course. We are doing that. Should we maximize their integration sooner rather than later? Absolutely. We are doing that, too.

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But we what we cannot do is pull the plug on our current generation sources before we know there’s sufficient power coming from new generation sources. Nor can we transition recklessly from relying on one source to the other in a manner that puts beleaguered consumers under further strain.

Recalibrating our resource mix “must never subject ratepayers or taxpayers to needless price increases,” I noted in a column back in May. “And it sure as hell cannot subject them to blackouts – or worse.”

Unfortunately, this is what’s happening …

Thanks to climate “science,” government is forcing investor-owned utilities and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) to drastically scale back conventional power generation in favor of a premature ramp-up of renewables – even though it is painfully clear these new power sources are not going to be able to bridge the gap fast enough.

An ongoing bid organized by tech giant Google and others to initiate “market reform” in North and South Carolina (an effort which is being run out of the Tarheel State, incidentally) is putting this issue on the front-burner for Palmetto State politicians – who have demonstrated a truly alarming lack of foresight on energy issues over the past decade.

Well, they had better un-fog their glasses on this one … and soon.

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(PJM)

The Google coalition is pushing for South Carolina to join an RTO known as PJM. Named for the three states it first served – Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland – PJM currently “coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of thirteen states and Washington, D.C.” According to a recent study (.pdf) commissioned by the S.C. General Assembly, joining it could result in more than $362 million in annual savings to the Palmetto State.

The problem? Those savings will amount to precisely squat if the lights don’t stay on. Google and its eco-radical allies (who met this week in Charleston, according to our sources) don’t want South Carolina lawmakers to know it, but the truth is PJM has serious “resource adequacy” issues on its hands. Don’t take my word for it, though.

According to the findings of an internal “energy transition” report (.pdf) released by the RTO in February of this year, it is struggling to keep up with a rash of “generation retirements” that could result in rolling blackouts.

“The amount of generation retirements appears to be more certain than the timely arrival of replacement generation resources,” the report bluntly stated.

According to a recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal, PJM ordered businesses to “curtail power usage” during a recent arctic air blast.

“PJM narrowly avoided rolling blackouts as some generators switched to burning oil,” the editorial noted. “But what will happen when those power plants shut down? A power shortage at PJM has the potential to cascade across much of the U.S.”

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RELATED | BOTTOM-LINING SOUTH CAROLINA’S ENERGY FUTURE

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It isn’t just arctic blasts setting off short-term “resource adequacy” concerns … heat waves are straining the system to the breaking point, too.

This week, PJM declared a level one emergency for its 65 million customers – noting “that system conditions might require the use of PJM emergency procedures” given that “all generating resources are online or have been scheduled.”

“PJM has issued this series of alerts to help prepare generators for the onset of intense heat, acting conservatively in light of recent extreme weather events that have occurred within the region and across the country,” the warning noted.

What’s happening? Tens of millions of Americans are jacking their air conditioning units in response to scorching summer temperatures, and PJM is telling them there may not be enough power to keep all of them running.

Again … this is the wagon to which market reformers wish to hitch South Carolina’s horse?

RTO opponents wasted little time in drawing attention to PJM’s dire straits – in which a major crisis was averted (for now) because the company had “natural gas, coal and nuclear doing most of the heavy lifting,” according to our friends Zero Hedge.

“If Google prevails in pushing its agenda you could be unable to turn on your air conditioner or even ceiling fan this week – and likely through next,” one market analyst told this media outlet. “The forecast is dire for at least the next ten days. In New Jersey that’s dangerous. In South Carolina, it’s deadly.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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3 comments

Alex Top fan July 27, 2023 at 6:15 pm

While our feckless leaders shoot spitballs through straws at each other and get little done, I daydream back about 30 years with my first solar/battery/generator installation that was actually grid tied for push back. Granted there were virtually no regulations as far as safety then. The meters were simple with their spinning wheels either going one way or the other.
Meaning you sold power back at the price you paid.
Bit by bit the advantages of contributing to grid security has been eroded by a regulatory environment that buckles every thought of balancing the concerns of the macro-visionaries.
Wouldn’t a more stable power grid be better served by the community that depends on its survival?
The technology is available now to connect and manage these resources together at the provider level. A home based incentive of more than 30% of retail would be a good start.
I produce enough to power three average homes with enough storage for three days. Grid tie pushback is not worth it for me. The pay out vs the cost of the “privileged” plus the paltry amount they pay per kw is just not worth it. For now, I just use the grid if I need to charge my batteries, which hasn’t happened yet. Again, some decentralization is in order. Top down economics are destabilizing our lives.

Reply
J Monday Top fan July 28, 2023 at 8:06 am

Great article. Beware the climate science genius’s & their brilliant logic (or lack of). Tell them to go live off the grid in their solar & wind powered houses & drive their electric cars. Which, by the way, when the grid goes down-ain’t nobody charging any cars. We had rolling blackouts in Alabama during the Christmas holidays with subzero windchills. Super scary. Yes, we all need to be better stewards of natural resources, but we’re just not there yet with alternative energy sources. We need more common sense & less agenda-pushing.

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Lawmakers are useless July 30, 2023 at 2:01 pm

Maybe our senators and congressman and women should be fighting this back instead of fighting in Ukraine running for president or telling the entire world about there pre marital see lives!!

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