The New York Times reports the difficulties likely to face US power generation companies due to the pace of change demanded by the latest government rules and the ever-increasing reliance on part-time power sources scattered all over the place. Does this sound familiar at all?
WASHINGTON — As President Obama prepares to unveil his climate change regulations on coal-fired power plants, the nation’s electric utilities are preparing to transform the system that keeps the lights on in America. But some companies fear that in the process, the lights may go out.
This summer, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release a final set of rules aimed at forcing electric power companies — the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions — to cut them 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The Obama administration has consistently used 2005 as a baseline year for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The ambitious rules hope to remake the nation’s electricity system by closing hundreds of heavily polluting coal plants while rapidly expanding the use of natural gas plants, wind and solar power. Officials at electric utilities say that as they make that transition — taking the nation’s largest but dirtiest source of electricity offline and replacing it with a mix of cleaner power sources — they may face power failures.
“If the proposed rule stands the way it is, there will be blackouts,” said Nick Akins, the chief executive of American Electric Power, an electric utility that supplies power in 11 Midwestern states.
This week, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, a utility industry group, issued a report concluding that, as written, the proposed climate change rules could pose “a significant reliability challenge” to the nation’s power supply.