A group of four national business groups representing US renewable energy interests submitted materials to the US Energy Secretary Rick Perry in an attempt to inform him of the importance and value of renewable energy sources and their contribution to protecting electricity reliability.
Dated Tuesday, the four groups — Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) — expressed regret in a cover letter that the Department of Energy had ignored calls for “an open and transparent process for the review of reliability and electricity markets” as per a memo published by Secretary Perry on April 14.
Rick Perry ordered a study of the US electric grid as part of a 60-day review that Perry set in motion on April 14, citing concerns about the “erosion” of resources that provide “baseload power” for the US electricity grid.
“We are blessed as a nation to have an abundance of domestic energy resources, such as coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric, all of which provide affordable baseload power and contribute to a stable, reliable and resilient grid,” Perry wrote in the memo to his chief of staff, which was obtained by Bloomberg News, which also cited grid experts having “highlighted the diminishing diversity of our nation’s electric generation mix and what that could mean for baseload power and grid resilience.”
However, the review has not been well-received, as it has not been made an open and transparent process, and appears not to have actually involved much outside input. In their opening letter to Secretary Perry, the four organizations write:
“It is in the spirit of common purpose that we express our disappointment that the Department has apparently chosen not to make this review — which as outlined in your memo has the potential to upend energy markets around the country — public and open to input from industry, grid operators, state regulators, and other key stakeholders.”
Fast-forward to this week, and the AEE, ACORE, AWEA, and SEIA have all submitted independent analyses, based on their own sources and industry experience, which each show how the increasing use of natural gas, renewable energy, and energy management sources — on top of baseload power such as coal and nuclear — in fact only increase reliability, rather than decrease it, while also saving consumers money.
Each of the four reports submitted to Rick Perry have been made available, as follows:
- AEE: Changing the Power Grid for the Better – shows that today’s electric generation mix is more diverse than ever; low-priced gas primarily driving change in resources, followed by flat load growth and competition from renewables; ERCOT and PJM experience shows reliable grid management with high degree of variable renewables and even in extreme conditions.
- ACORE: Energy Fact Check – The Impact of Renewables on Electricity Markets and Reliability – ACORE-produced report covering questions around baseload power and economic impact raised in Secretary Perry’s April 14, 2017 memorandum directing a study to explore critical issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electric grid.
- AWEA: Renewable Energy Builds a More Reliable and Resilient Electricity Mix. Grid operators are already reliably integrating large amounts of wind energy, and their studies show they can go much higher. Integrating renewables on the power grid costs less than integrating baseload sources; modern power electronics enable renewables to provide reliability services as well as or better than conventional power plants; and renewables diversify the energy mix, improving economics and resiliency. Renewables are not the primary factor undermining baseload sources – as can be seen by maps of where each is predominately located, cheap natural gas is the primary factor.
- SEIA: Solar & Renewables Benefit Grid & The U.S. Economy –Solar and renewables provide significant advantages to the national grid in terms of reliability, fuel diversity and national security. This SEIA review highlights multiple studies showing that the existing grid can handle high penetrations of renewable energy to the benefit of ratepayers, grid system operators and system performance.
In conclusion, the four groups explained that, “We believe that, taken together, these reports demonstrate that the US electric power system is more diverse in its energy sources than ever before, and due to the flexible way these resources are now managed, becoming more reliable and resilient as a result.”