Coal cuts dangerously clip Texas power capacity

By |2018-03-19T13:32:08+00:00March 19th, 2018|CFACT Insights|Comments Off on Coal cuts dangerously clip Texas power capacity

As reported in the Houston Chronicle (chron.com), “Texas’ electricity grid operator expects the state’s power demand to hit an all-time high this summer, possibly requiring customers to reduce power consumption and triggering emergency measures to keep electricity flowing through the grid.”

Titled “A Summer Bummer Looms,” the article goes on to say that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) estimates that it will have just enough power to meet demand forecasts provided that temperatures don’t get excessively hot or the wind doesn’t blow strong enough to breeze by the deficit.

But wait just a minute. Is this really the same Texas I live in that they are referring to? Isn’t Texas the country’s petroleum and gas energy capital? And hasn’t the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) bragged that Texas leads the nation in that wind power production which is making evil petroleum obsolete and unnecessary anyway?

Reading more deeply into the article, they give the reason after all:  ” . . . following the shutdown of three of the state’s largest coal-fired plants, planned outages, and project delays, the state’s summer power reserves are at their lowest in more than a decade.”

Who could possibly have imagined that shutting down a few coal plants would make any real difference, leading to what they project as an expected “spike in wholesale electricity prices.” Not to worry, however, if demands exceed supply, ERCOT may ask customers to “raise their thermostats to cut power consumption,” or failing that, they may “cut off power to large customers — such as industrial plants,” or will “trigger rolling outages.”

Even more remarkable, this is all reported in a newspaper that makes The New York Times and The Washington Post look like shills for climate-cooking SUV salesmen. Where is that electricity going to come from to recharge all the plug-in Obamacars, including nifty Teslas that mostly only Texas oil barons can afford?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that coal’s share of the market fell from 50% in 2008, to around 31% in 2017. True, abundant and relatively less expensive natural gas resulting from a fracking revolution hastened coal’s competitive decline in the U.S. energy market.

Nevertheless, the 8-year tenure of the previous White House administration may well have dealt a final death blow to the industry, fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise.

Candidate Obama pledged, “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted . . . That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.”

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wasted no time crafting a signature Clean Power Plan (CPP), a suite of regulations intended to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions from the existing electricity generation fleet by 2030. This unprecedented interpretation of the agency’s regulatory powers forced states to build new generating facilities, rather than allowing upgrades at individual plants to achieve reductions in the most feasible and cost-effective ways.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the CPP even before it was enacted, great industry damage had already been accomplished as many states scrambled to comply.

Texas may be The Lone Star State, but it doesn’t stand alone in this “free renewable energy” nonsense that provides costly, unreliably intermittent, anemic power.

According to the Center on Global Energy Policy, more than 250 coal-fired plants have been retired since 2010, taking more than 34,000 megawatts of power generation capacity off line. Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that 33 coal plants were shuttered during President Obama’s second term. A dozen are slated for closure in 2018, rivaling a record high of 15 which were shut down in 2015.

Last year, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced plans to rescind the CPP, which various analyses estimate would otherwise have cost customers about $39 billion annually through 11% to 14% electricity bills increases. EIA data have indicated that the CPP would also have reduced manufacturing production by $45.billion annually — costing 68,000 jobs in the process.

The benefit of all of this would be to avert only 0 .019º C of future warming over nearly a century, a highly speculative amount far too low to be accurately measured with even the most sophisticated scientific equipment.

Thanks in large part to coal power generation, the U.S. has had the most reliable and affordable supply of electricity in the world. Gratefully, the Trump Administration is committed to policies and actions that will perpetuate and expand this global advantage.

Any notions that generously subsidized solar and wind will significantly compensate capacity losses from shuttered coal plants and over-regulated oil and natural gas suppliers are scientifically and economically delusional assaults which will leave America’s families and industries powerlessly impoverished.

We have witnessed a canary in the coal mine — and it is dying.

[This article originally appeared at www.Newsmax.com]

About the Author:

Larry Bell
CFACT Advisor Larry Bell heads the graduate program in space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded and directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. He is also the author of "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax."