As with other issues with the Biden energy transition, his administration is pushing ahead despite the electric grid not being ready for the onslaught of electric vehicle charging stations and the intermittency of solar and wind power that the Biden administration believes can replace the conventional generation sources that are dispatchable. The Biden Administration’s EPA announced a proposed new rule that will require two-thirds of new cars sold to be all-electric vehicles by 2032. But, technical issues with electric vehicles and the energy grid need to be worked out before millions of electric vehicles begin seeking power from the grid at different times of day and in a multitude of locations.
- By pushing electrification of the U.S. vehicle fleet at a time when the grid is already growing much weaker because of politically correct, intermittent renewable energy, Biden is threatening both the electrical and transportation systems upon which Americans have relied.
- Biden’s EPA is pushing regulations that could shut down 60 percent of generation even as their plans to “electrify everything” places unprecedented demands upon it.
- Agencies such as FERC and NERC are beginning to issue warnings about the viability of such an approach.
- None of these warnings are being heeded by the Biden administration, and Americans may have to suffer before Washington begins to listen.
For example, some electric vehicles include a programming bug that could cause electric vehicles to consume power erratically, destabilizing the grid, which could result in catastrophic blackouts. A National Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) report in April warned that as EV adoption increases, the electric grid could experience very high electricity demand, need “expensive, last-minute upgrades” to accommodate chargers, and suffer from unplanned blackouts. NERC employees warn that the issues need to be dealt with before millions of electric cars and trucks draw on the grid for power.
But there are other issues that need attention before the electricity demand from electric vehicles arises. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners (FERC) indicated several factors pointing to a grid reliability crisis, including numerous coal plants that are being retired prematurely, insufficient pipeline capacity to assure natural gas can be delivered to power plants, insufficient high-voltage transmission capacity, and distortions in the electricity market caused by massive federal subsidies for weather-dependent renewables.
FERC Commissioner Danly noted: “The subsidies available to renewable generators are so lucrative that, when participating in procurement auctions, they are able to offer at a price of zero instead of their actual cost. The market signal thereby created is that these new resources can be built for free, and thus the cost of power is also free. This, of course, is untrue, and the inevitable consequence is market-wide price suppression. The price suppression deprives other market participants of much-needed revenue, leading to the premature retirement of the dispatchable generators which have to offer into the market at their true costs in order to remain viable.” In other words, massive subsidies to wind and solar so distort the market that they are now threatening the grid itself.
Despite the FERC warnings, one week after the FERC Commissioners’ statements of catastrophic issues on the U.S. electric grid, President Biden’s EPA announced proposed rules that could force the closure of 90 percent of the fossil fuel power plants in the country. The EPA’s proposed standards require all coal-fired power plants to use a new and uneconomic technology called carbon capture and storage (CCS) to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 90 percent by 2035, or begin co-firing with natural gas. In addition, natural-gas-fired plants must capture 90 percent of emissions by 2035 using CCS or switch almost entirely to hydrogen by 2038. Those advocating for hydrogen as a source of energy are insisting it be created by renewable electricity sources. The only other option for both plant types is to shut down.
CCS is used at only one power plant in Canada and the only U.S. coal plant to implement CCS successfully closed in 2020 for economic reasons. It is not currently a commercial product. The Biden administration has acknowledged that building and using CCS faces many of the same permitting and regulatory problems plaguing other energy infrastructure, but is insisting on putting the cart before the horse.
Unfortunately for Americans, the premature retirement of dispatchable plants that the EPA rule incentivizes is happening before there is enough solar and wind power on the grid to replace them, which is shear lunacy! Even the New York Times notes that there is a lack of planning to get the grid where it needs to be to meet Biden’s climate goals with few efforts underway to ease the bottlenecks.
The numbers tell the story. In 2022, the United States generated 4,243 million megawatt-hours of electricity, including 1,689 million from natural gas and 829 million from coal. If these plants close, that represents a loss of 2,518 million megawatt-hours, or about 60 percent of U.S. electric generation. In 2022, U.S. renewable resources, excluding hydroelectric power, generated just 651 million megawatt-hours, or 15 percent of generation. To replace all the coal and natural gas plants, the United States would need to quadruple its politically correct renewable-energy generation without even considering new demand, which is projected to triple world-wide by 2050, including for new hydrogen production and an increasingly electrified vehicle fleet. Increasing politically correct renewables will require hundreds of thousands of miles of new long-distance transmission lines that already have a multiyear backlog for energy-project interconnections.
A report published by the Department of Energy in February, the “National Transmission Needs Study,” says the United States needs to build 47,300 miles of new high voltage power lines by 2035, which would expand the existing transmission grid by 57 percent. The United States has 240,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines. Between 2008 and 2021, the United States built 1,700 miles of high voltage transmission lines a year. At that rate, building 57 percent or 136,800 miles of lines will take 80.5 years, which is way more than the time Biden has allocated to meet his climate goals.
The U.S. electric grid does not have the capacity to handle the increased power load required to charge the volume of new electric vehicles that the Biden team wants on the roads over the next decade. The Biden Administration’s new vehicle emissions standards would make the United States more vulnerable to blackouts unless there are massive changes to fix the grid. America’s growing power demands, coupled with the retirement of existing fossil fuel power generation resulting from EPA’s proposed rules, far outweighs the capacity of politically correct renewable sources to keep up, even with the massive subsidies they are now enjoying. And the need for additional transmission lines won’t happen as fast as Biden needs them to meet his climate agenda goals.
More studies are emerging showing the physical, technical and economic hurdles which the nation faces if it continues down this road. The deeper people look into how to implement Biden’s incessant demands for what he determines to be “climate-friendly policies,” the more they are running into real-life problems that appear to be growing in scale. Even the New York Times agrees that there is a lack of planning on the part of the administration to handle the bottlenecks.