Outgoing US regulator says ‘bring on more renewables,’ as grid study looms

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Colette Honorable says renewables have not threatened the US electricity grid. Duke Energy photo.

US regulator Colette Honorable sees no problem with renewables’ reliability

Colette Honorable, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a conference on Tuesday that renewables do not make the US electricity grid less stable.

Honorable made the comments prior to the release of a study by the Trump administration that examined if wind and solar power has negatively impacted the reliability of the grid.

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She also stressed that recent record amounts of wind and solar power have not harmed the grid.  Last February, wind power briefly powered over 50 per cent of Southwest Power Pools electricity demand across 14 states for the first time on any North American grid.

In March, wind and solar accounted for over 10 per cent of US electricity demand for the first time.

“Do I recognize we have to be attendant to supporting the different ways in which renewables work? Yes,” said Honorable.  She was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2014 and is stepping down from her post on Friday.

“I don’t see any problems with reliability, and I say bring on more renewables.”  Her remarks generated warm applause at an Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration conference.

Since being sworn in as president, Donald Trump has set out to dismantle the Obama administration’s clean-energy policies at a time when power generated from renewables has hit record highs.

In April, Energy Secretary Rick Perry initiated a study to determine if renewable energy policies played a role in the closure of coal and nuclear electricity plants.  The study is also expected to determine if renewables have reduced the stability of the US grid.

As well, the study will be a “critical review of regulatory burdens” placed by the Obama administration on base load power plants, according to Perry.

“These politically driven policies, driven primarily by a hostility to coal, threaten the reliability and stability of the greatest electrical grid in the world,” Perry said.

Cheaper, cleaner natural gas and the expanding renewable energy industry have played a large role in closing coal-powered plants.  The shuttered coal-powered plants were also older and inefficient.

According to Perry, the Trump administration is working to find an energy mix that is affordable, clean and ensures a reliable power grid.

 

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