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Politico: Biden Gets his First Energy Crisis — and an Opening

Posted by Eric Wolff and Lorraine Woellert on Feb 16, 2021

Politico examined massive Texas grid failures resulting from extreme cold weather and quoted AEE’s Jeff Dennis on the case for scaling investment in advanced energy technologies.  Read excerpts below and the full story here.

The extreme weather that forced power outages from North Dakota to Texas on Tuesday triggered a bout of the usual finger-pointing about the causes. But it could also deliver a boost to President Joe Biden’s efforts to upgrade infrastructure, counter climate change and expand the reach of renewable energy.

As millions of Texans shivered in the dark, supporters of the fossil fuel industries turned their ire on the state’s massive — and frozen — wind farms, even as Republican Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledged that the extreme cold had shut down all types of power plants, including those that burn coal. Data showed that the freeze hit the state’s natural gas power plants the hardest.

What most experts saw was the Texas grid’s vulnerability to harsh weather — and a warning that climate change-induced disasters could devastate the nation’s leading energy producer. 

The resulting crisis could be a boon to Biden’s proposal to spend huge sums of money to harden the nation’s electric grid as it connects giant wind and solar power plants to cities and states thousands of miles away. That’s an essential step if the U.S. is to make a major turn toward relying on solar, wind and other renewable energy to keep the lights on...

Freezing temperatures sent energy demand soaring in Texas to levels that eclipsed even the hottest summer days. Grid operators there and across the Midwest implemented rolling blackouts to prevent further damage to the grid, but in Texas alone 4 million customers have been without power since Monday.

Investigations of the causes are just beginning, but data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s electric grid, showed that at least 30 gigawatts of power fueled by natural gas, coal and nuclear went off line Monday, along with 16 gigawatts of renewable power...

“Wind and solar and, increasingly, storage are the most cost-competitive options on the grid,” said Jeff Dennis, a managing director at Advanced Energy Economy, a national association of big power users and other businesses that advocates for clean energy. “There’s a real case to be made for rapidly scaling our investment in those technologies to improve both our reliability and our resilience” …

Read the full story here.

Topics: United In The News