July 17, 2017 Read More →

Draft Federal Report Finds Efficiency Initiatives, Battery Storage and Demand Response Enhancing U.S. Grid Stability

Bloomberg News:

Wind and solar power don’t pose a significant threat to the reliability of the U.S. power grid, Energy Department staff members said in a draft report, contradicting statements by their leader Rick Perry.

“The power system is more reliable today due to better planning, market discipline, and better operating rules and standards,” according to a July draft of the study obtained by Bloomberg.

The findings — which are still under review by the department’s leadership — contrast with Perry’s arguments that “baseload” sources such as coal and nuclear power that provide constant power are jeopardized by Obama-era incentives for renewable energy, making the grid unreliable.

Two people familiar with the report, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations, confirmed the early conclusions though cautioned they were subject to change. It is customary for administration officials to put their own stamp on reports prepared by career staff at federal agencies.

The report, which is overdue, could be released as soon as next week.

In April, Perry launched the grid study with an eye to examining whether policies that favor wind and solar energy are accelerating the retirement of coal and nuclear plants critical to ensuring reliable power supplies. With President Donald Trump pledging to reverse regulations that have harmed coal, the study was viewed by critics as a way the administration would justify curtailing the surging expansion of wind and solar power and provide help to coal plants.

But the draft report concludes: “Grid operators are using technologies, standards and practices to assure that they can continue operating the grid reliably.”

The career officials at the department found that energy efficiency, battery storage and demand response were helping the reliability of the grid, changing it from the way it had operated in the past, but not endangering the provision of electricity, the May draft showed.

Aging coal and nuclear plants have higher maintenance costs and are getting lower payments because of expiring contracts, making them less profitable, the May document says. The profitability of coal plants built in the 1970s and 1980s declined after electricity markets were opened to competition, it said.

Backers of the renewable industry said they were heartened that Perry tapped Alison Silverstein, a Texas consultant and former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staffer who has championed energy efficiency, to play a key role in writing the study.

Renewable Energy Not a Threat to Grid, Draft of U.S. Study Finds

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