By Laura Sheehan
January 28, 2016 at 5:00 am ET
As states stretched from the Northeast to the Mid-Atlantic dig out from under what is being described as a historic snowstorm, many people in the affected area have one question at the top of their minds: “Will we lose power this winter?” Having the power on in our homes means so much more than keeping the lights on—it means keeping the heat on, the refrigerator running and our phones charged.
Energy reliability is so important that the idea of being without power, even for short periods, is almost unthinkable. The reliability of our electrical grid can be largely attributed to coal. It is affordable, it is available and it can be stored onsite at power plants, allowing them to address demand whenever the need arises.
President Obama’s illegal and unwise Clean Power Plan will jeopardize this system by forcing us to use less reliable sources of power and by taking power plants offline—when there’s nothing there to replace them.
The reliability coal provides is hard to match. It is abundant, economic and—most importantly from a reliability standpoint—the energy it generates can be stockpiled. The flexibility that coal provides to our electric grid benefits both power producers and consumers by ensuring a steady stream of power when it is needed.
The Obama Administration’s costly regulations present real problems for our power supply. When we talk about having a reliable electric system, we are actually speaking about the stability of several components of that system. First, there’s system adequacy, which is the assurance that the resources needed to maintain a steady supply of power to consumers are available.
Next, there’s operating reliability. This speaks to the system’s ability to manage and overcome sudden interruptions. Finally, there’s fuel security. Fuel security is the access to fuel supplies, even under changing conditions in markets or transport and delivery challenges.
The CPP will undermine our electric system’s reliability by making large and potentially reckless changes to the ways in which energy is produced and consumed. The retirement of a large number of coal plants will threaten system adequacy as generating facilities are taken offline with nothing to replace them. Furthermore, the CPPs increased reliance on alternative energy sources means that our energy supply will contain more intermittent resources such as wind and solar, rather than on-demand resources such as fossil fuels.
As temperatures plunge and snowstorms blanket much of the Eastern seaboard, it is important to stop for a moment and think about what the Obama Administration is asking Americans to risk as it pushes this power plan on the states. It’s asking them to risk the reliability of the very system that keeps their homes warm and the lights on.