EPA Rules Threaten Reliability of the Nation's Electricity Grids
Many of us have warned for some time that electric reliability would be affected by the EPA's new regulations. Now the warnings are coming from the agencies in charge of keeping electricity flowing to millions of Americans. They are asking the White House for temporary relief from the EPA's deadlines in order to prevent power outages for already strained grids.
Texas electricity operators (ERCOT) are sounding the alarm that the state will likely not have enough electricity to meet demand during the upcoming summer season. The threat to the grid can be attributed to the combined effect of increasing demand for electricity in Texas and the loss of several power plants on the horizon. Many plants that currently contribute to the combined electricity capacity in Texas will be closing down in the near future as a result of the new EPA rules.
ERCOT is so concerned about the capability of the electricity system in Texas to handle peak demand that they have taken some unusual steps. They have approached the state's transmission operators and asked for a thorough top-down review of all current projects that are expected to be plugged into the grid over the next year. They are asking that assumptions about go-live dates be validated. ERCOT’s chief executive cited new EPA rules among other factors as reasons why there is no margin of error when it comes to planning out the available capacity of the grid over the coming year.
2011 was a particularly challenging year for ERCOT. After losing some 7,000 MW of electricity generation capacity the grid strained to deal with unprecedented demand for electricity. Record ice, snow, and frigid temperatures struck the state in February 2011 causing a jump in demand for electricity pushing the grid beyond its capacity. The results were rolling blackouts in a state unaccustomed to such things. This was followed later in the year by record high temperatures. This again taxed the grid to a straining point. Add to this weather mix a historic drought and statewide wildfires.Continued on the next page