A hasty switch to renewable energy sources is at the forefront of the problem, as grid operators warn citizens in Michigan that blackouts may be necessary during the summer months.
In order to make the transition to renewable energy, “our leaders need to be very mindful of the day-to-day impact,” Joe Trotter, the director of the ALEC’s, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force, stated. As one observer put it, “It’s fine to look ahead, but the present has a significant impact on their constituency.”
Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) executive director JT Smith told NPR earlier this week that the organization’s seasonal assessment found
“capacity shortfalls in both the north and central regions of MISO… leaving those areas at increased risk of temporary, controlled outages to preserve the integrity of the bulk electric system,” which prompted Trotter’s concerns.
It’s possible that this reality will lead to controlled outages in Michigan this summer, a step MISO claims has never been performed in the state.
The state’s electricity grid is expected to be stressed by an abnormally hot summer, according to MISO, which predicts a peak demand of 124 gigawatts, which is greater than the present generation capacity of 119 gigawatts.
Another factor contributing to the state’s electric shortfall this summer is the closure of several traditional power facilities as grid operators strive to shift to renewable energy sources.
Solar and wind power are heavily reliant on external forces that can’t be controlled, Trotter explained.
It’s a common belief that solar and wind power, two of the most popular green energy sources, are capable of producing power around the clock. Batteries that can store energy for later use are being developed in an effort to ease this problem. Technology is not yet capable of meeting demand, and battery prices are exceeding traditional power generation sources like natural gas, Trotter said.
As a result of these efforts, coal and natural gas plants have been shuttered at a rate quicker than new infrastructure to accommodate renewable energy sources can be constructed.
Trotter remarked, “They’re shutting down coal plants….
However, “there is a much longer-term option to replace it with renewables,” he said, but the solutions are “years or decades away from being able to replace the coal.”
Jack O’Malley said that the pace at which traditional factories are closing is perhaps too ambitious. Michigan Republican State Rep. Jack O’Malley has observed a similar problem, he said.
This is a generation problem,” O’Malley remarked. What I see is a combination of an honest attempt to reduce carbon that I think everyone agrees on, as well as unrealistic views from certain environmentalists about wind and solar being able to carry the day. “
It was noted by O’Malley that many environmentally conscientious lawmakers are hostile to less environmentally destructive traditional energy production methods such as nuclear energy and natural gas, despite the fact that these methods of production may help to make up for energy shortages.
In his speech, O’Malley remarked, “I am all for renewable, but we also have to look at what makes sense.
Electric-grid operators from all around the country are warning of similar problems in other places, not just in Michigan.
Last week, California’s grid operator warned that the summer’s expected high temperatures and wildfires could lead to a shortage of energy, while Texas’ grid has had problems in the past.
Interim Electric Reliability Council of Texas CEO Brad Jones told the Wall Street Journal last week that “every market around the world is trying to deal with the same issue.”
Our renewable resources must be used as much as possible, but we must also ensure that we have sufficient dispatchable generation to maintain reliability.
When it comes to generating power from renewable sources, Trotter argued, the problem derives from a lack of infrastructure that can handle the high demand of the summer months.
However, the short-term solution is to keep traditional power plants functioning, but he doubted that policymakers had the “political will” to implement it.
Trotter said that the best course of action would be to keep the plants open. “If you’re concerned about coal, you can switch to natural gas.”