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The Looming Threat to America’s Power Grid: EPA’s Regulatory Blitz

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In a sweeping move targeting the nation’s fossil-fuel power plants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a barrage of regulations on April 25th. At the forefront of these regulations stands America’s coal fleet, a crucial source of power across the nation and the primary electricity source in over a dozen states. The EPA’s stringent rules, including costly technology mandates, are poised to shutter existing coal plants almost immediately and make the construction of new coal and natural gas power capacity nearly unfeasible.

While celebrations may be underway at EPA headquarters, the agency’s plan to dismantle the bedrock of our power supply has garnered widespread criticism from utilities, grid operators, and grid reliability regulators. These entities, tasked with ensuring the uninterrupted flow of power to American homes and businesses, see the EPA’s regulations as a dire threat.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Grid reliability experts have repeatedly sounded the alarm about a looming crisis, warning of potential power shortages that could cripple the nation. The EPA’s actions have only exacerbated this precarious situation.

The surge in power demand from data centers, renewed investments in manufacturing, and the Biden administration’s push for electric vehicle adoption have added to the strain on the grid. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), responsible for overseeing grid reliability, issued a stark warning in December, highlighting the rapid rise in electricity demand and the accelerated closure of power plants as imminent threats. NERC specifically cited stringent environmental regulations as a factor jeopardizing the smooth transition of the energy mix.

Despite these warnings, the EPA has plowed ahead with its agenda without consulting grid reliability regulators. The agency’s faith in wind and solar power to fill the gaps left by coal plants is misguided. Intermittent renewable sources are ill-equipped to provide the consistent, on-demand electricity that coal plants offer. Moreover, the promised renewable energy expansion is facing significant hurdles, including high interest rates, supply chain disruptions, and local opposition to large-scale wind and solar projects.

The lack of progress in building high-voltage transmission lines to transport renewable energy exacerbates the problem. The Biden administration’s goal of doubling or tripling the nation’s interregional transmission lines within a decade is falling short, with transmission additions reaching a decade-low last year.

The consequence of these factors is a widening gap between the power supply needed and the supply available. When electricity shortages, skyrocketing prices, and blackouts inevitably occur, there will be no ambiguity about the culpable party. This crisis is entirely of our own making, and the EPA bears the responsibility.

As the nation stands on the brink of an unprecedented energy challenge, urgent action is needed to safeguard the reliability and resilience of our power grid. The EPA must heed the warnings of experts, engage with grid reliability regulators, and reassess its regulatory approach to ensure a stable and sustainable energy future for all Americans.

How is your family preparing for a massive grid outage? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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