It’s been more than two months since Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered the DOE to conduct a 60-day study on whether the wind and solar are undercutting “baseload” coal and nuclear power -- a request that many renewable energy and environmental groups fear will lead to a foregone conclusion against renewable-friendly state subsidies and policies.
In 2015, the lead author of the Energy Department study wrote a security report that concluded renewable energy policies are a greater emerging threat to the U.S. electric power grid than natural disturbances or human attacks, including terrorism. "Current policies are shuttering unprecedented amounts of reliable power sources while simultaneously forcing increasing amounts of intermittent, unreliable power onto the grid," the report states.
But the DOE study’s now-overdue status hasn’t stopped the flood of research highlighting the flaws in Perry’s underlying concept of coal and nuclear power’s primacy in the country’s energy mix. We already covered last week's editorial from David Hochschild of the California Energy Commission and David Olsen of the California Independent System Operator Board of Governors, calling DOE assumptions about grid reliability "nonsense." And they're not the only energy experts saying so.
Last Wednesday, a report from Analysis Group entitled “Electricity Markets, Reliability, and the Evolving U.S. Power System,” laid out further evidence that low-cost natural gas and flat demand for electricity, not state and federal policies supporting renewable energy development, are causing the rising number of retirements of coal and nuclear power plants. The report, funded by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute and the American Wind Energy Association, also finds that “the changing electricity resource mix poses no threat to the reliability of the nation’s power system” -- a finding supported by multiple studies that have received a lot of attention in the past two months.