August 23, 2017 Read More →

On the Blogs: ‘The Military Is Thinking About the Future of Our Energy Security—It’s Time for the Energy Department to Do the Same’

The Hill:

When it comes to energy security, Energy Secretary Rick Perry could learn a lot from the Department of Defense. Renewable energy is not a national security problem — it is a key part of the solution.

Perry argued earlier this year that renewable energy poses a threat to national security by alleging both that wind and solar are contributing to the decline of coal-fired power plants and that these technologies are less “reliable” since they only work when the sun shines and wind blows. In April, he requested a Department of Energy study on the reliability of the nation’s electric grid in attempt to prove these points.

An early draft of the much-awaited report provides a glimmer of hope that the career department staff will refute their boss’s pronouncement that renewable energy is bad for national security.

Contrary to Perry’s assertion, the draft report finds that “significantly higher levels of renewable energy can be integrated (into the grid) without any compromise of system reliability.” But the draft is far from complete, particularly the sections examining renewables’ impact on system reliability and resiliency.

As the Department of Energy moves forward with its report, the agency should consult with the Department of Defense and our nation’s top military leaders to understand renewable energy’s role in improving our energy security, not degrading it.    

Just look at a recent paper published in June by the Center for Naval Analysis Military Advisory Board. The support for renewables in the paper is unequivocal, stating that, “advanced energy technologies provide options for U.S. energy independence through clean and safe development of our vast energy resources, while enhancing our geopolitical security.”

The Department of Defense has invested significantly in renewable energy for the primary purpose of security, resilience and ensuring its missions are successful.  Defense Secretary James Mattis has called on the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines to untether from vulnerable fuel supply chains that threaten mission success and cost troops’ lives.

Yet Perry does not seem to share the Defense Department’s vision of the energy future: a modernized, dynamic, cyber-secure, fuel-diverse, decentralized power grid that relies on sources like wind, solar, geothermal, landfill gas and biomass.

A bad guy can cut off our access to stockpiled coal, but can’t shut off the sun or wind.

It’s true that the increasing use of energy sources like intermittent large-scale wind and solar resources requires a modernized approach to managing the electric grid. That process is underway across the country. There is no going back.

The administration has the right to be concerned about the winners and losers in this process, but using the veil of “national security” to engineer a federal policy intervention on behalf of coal is disingenuous and contrary to the real national security challenges we face. The military is thinking about the future of our energy security — it’s time for the Energy Department to do the same.

More: Secretary Perry, it’s time to accept renewable energy is a good defense policy too

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