The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) have submitted materials to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry to inform the energy market study he called for last month.
The four national energy business groups have developed separate analyses based on existing sources and industry experience. They say their analyses show that changing energy sources – more use of natural gas, renewable energy and energy management sources, in addition to resources such as coal and nuclear power – “far from threaten” electric system reliability but, rather, increase it in important ways and save consumers money.
In an April 14 memo to Brian McCormack, his chief of staff, Perry directed the DOE to conduct a study that would “explore critical issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electric grid,” analyze “market-distorting effects of federal subsidies that boost one form of energy at the expense of others,” and report back in 60 days from April 19.
On April 28, the trade groups sent a joint letter to Perry to ask that the DOE “initiate a public process” and that the study “follow standard practice and be conducted in an open and transparent manner.” However, the groups note they did not receive a reply and, therefore, have expressed “disappointment” in a new letter transmitting their reports.
They have also expressed concern that the study could be based on “a faulty premise” – “that renewable generation is responsible for the retirement of coal and nuclear generation resources and that the loss of those resources will lead to declining reliability of the grid.”
Concluding that the topic of the study was “too important for DOE to be deprived of the expertise and insights of those in the industries we represent,” the four industry organizations submitted the following separate documents to inform the DOE in its study:
SEIA: Solar & Renewables Benefit Grid & The U.S. Economy. In its report, SEIA says solar and renewables provide significant advantages to the national grid in terms of reliability, fuel diversity and national security. The SEIA review highlights multiple studies showing that the existing grid can handle high penetrations of renewable energy to the benefit of ratepayers, grid system operators and system performance.
AWEA: Renewable Energy Builds a More Reliable and Resilient Electricity Mix. In its report, AWEA says grid operators are already reliably integrating large amounts of wind energy, and their studies show they can go much higher. The report says integrating renewables on the power grid costs less than integrating baseload sources; modern power electronics enable renewables to provide reliability services as well as or better than conventional power plants; and renewables diversify the energy mix, improving economics and resiliency. Renewables are not the primary factor undermining baseload sources – as can be seen by maps of where each is predominately located, cheap natural gas is the primary factor, according to AWEA.
AEE: Changing the Power Grid for the Better . AEE says its report shows that today’s electric generation mix is more diverse than ever; low-priced gas is primarily driving change in resources, followed by flat load growth and competition from renewables; and ERCOT and PJM experiences prove reliable grid management is possible with a high degree of variable renewables and even in extreme conditions.
ACORE: Energy Fact Check – The Impact of Renewables on Electricity Markets and Reliability. ACORE says its report covers questions around baseload power and economic impact raised in Perry’s April 14 memorandum directing a study to explore critical issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electric grid.
In their transmittal letter to the DOE, the groups concluded, “We believe that, taken together, these reports demonstrate that the U.S. electric power system is more diverse in its energy sources than ever before and, due to the flexible way these resources are now managed, is becoming more reliable and resilient as a result.”
The full letter can be downloaded here.