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Press Release Published: Mar 12, 2024

Hearing Wrap Up: Biden Administration Regulations Put the Reliability and Affordability of Our Power Grid at Risk

WASHINGTON—The Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs today held a hearing titled “The Power Struggle: Examining the Reliability and Security of America’s Electrical Grid” to examine ongoing threats and challenges to affordable, reliable power to the United States. At the hearing, lawmakers discussed how Biden Administration actions to rapidly expand electric-power demand while simultaneously reducing baseload capacity make the electrical grid less stable, less affordable, and more vulnerable to threats.

Key Takeaways:

America’s power grid is facing a serious reliability crisis. Power demand is expected to rise, while power generation is struggling to keep pace with increased electricity usage.

  • The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) raised concerns for strains to power grid resources “…stemming from higher demand…” throughout the next ten years.
  • Risks to the power grid include weather, foreign adversaries, cyber-attacks, and regulations.
  • “Virtually every aspect of American life depends upon having affordable and continuous electricity,” said James P. Danly, former chairman, commissioner, and general counsel of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and head of Skadden’s Energy Regulatory Group. “…The United States has its welfare dependent upon continuous and stable electricity at reasonable prices at a time when load requirements are growing. The demand is going up, and it’s going up at an accelerating pace.”

The Biden Administration’s quest for “green at all costs” policies is making America’s electrical grid less stable and more vulnerable to threats.

  • President Biden’s radical green agenda fails to account for renewable energy sources’ intermittent nature and jeopardizes grid security.
  • For example, during the 2021 winter storm outage in Texas, natural gas plants lacked the fuel necessary to provide essential electricity to the power grid. This event illustrated the need for diverse energy resources to ensure consumers have access to continuous power supplies at affordable rates.

The Biden Administration continues to demonize our most reliable energy sources and mandate initiatives that radically increase electricity demand, putting additional strain on our power grid.

  • During his opening statement, Travis Fisher, Director of Energy and Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute, highlighted three Biden Administration policies that have had a harmful impact on the reliability and affordability of electricity in the United States. “It’s not too late to stop the coming energy crisis, because it’s a crisis caused by unwise policies, and we can reform them,” he said.
  • Inflation Reduction Act (IRA): “The production tax credits in the IRA alone could cost American taxpayers three trillion dollars by the year 2050. These tax credits reward electricity production from unreliable sources and distort that market signals that keep reliable power plants running.”
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Tailpipe Emissions Rule: “This proposal seeks to ensure that by 2032, two-thirds of new vehicles sold will be electric. Beyond taking away basic freedoms, like the freedom to choose what car to buy, this rule will place immense stress on the power grid by adding substantially to overall electricity demand, which is already growing because we find new ways to use electricity all the time.”
  • Clean Power Plan 2.0: “The proposed rule mandates two technologies that are not adequately demonstrated: carbon capture, and green hydrogen. The EPA heard from White House reviewers that the technologies are not ready for prime time, but the EPA seems to be adapting a new standard for its mandates.”

Member Highlights:

Subcommittee Chairman Pat Fallon (R-Texas) discussed how Biden Administration regulations would impair grid reliability and raise costs on American consumers.

Rep. Fallon: “Just how severely could the [Clean Power Plan 2.0] rule impair grid reliability, simply on its own?”

Mr. Danly: “As the process was going forward, my concern was that the EPA had not taken into consideration what the reliability consequences of the rule were going to be. On top of that, and more specifically, there was no inquiry done at the time […] into the effect on the markets.”

Rep. Fallon: “How could the other public policies, like the EPA’s EV mandate, impact cost and reliability?

Mr. Danly: “The more demand you have the higher the price goes, that’s Econ 101. There’s another problem which is that in order to get ahold of the power that would come from the large deployment of renewables that a lot of public policy makers want and expect to have happen, there needs to be a huge build out of transmission. I’m skeptical that that buildout of transmission is even feasible, given the cost.”

Rep. Fallon: “What are the potential implications of the EPA’s failure to properly solicit the Commission’s counsel, especially on a rule which targets sixty percent of our nation’s power generation?”

Mr. Danly: “If you engage in a large rulemaking that has a profound effect on an entire segment of the economy without a clear understanding of what the reliability consequences are, not only do you fail to undertake the duties that are assigned to you, but you could potentially be engaging in policy that has unforeseen consequences that could be quite deleterious.”

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) examined the cause for power outages in the United Sates and the need for a variety of energy sources to meet national and regional power demands.

Rep. Donalds: “On a day-to-day basis, what is the number one cause of power outages in the United States?”

Mr. Danly: “I’m not sure what the number one cause is. They range from unexpected outages of transmission lines to maintenance issues with generators.”

Rep. Donalds: “What is the issue with solar panels and wind turbines in terms of being a part of the overall bulk power portion of the electric grid?”

Mr. Danly: “Wind and solar, intermittent resources, unless they have some kind of a battery backup, do not have the ability to deliver power at any time. It’s only when the resource is available.”

Rep. Donalds: “Is battery technology sufficient to capture the generation of these energies so that they can be applied to the grid?”

Mr. Danly: “Not in any way that would be affordable or widespread. Not for the foreseeable future.”

READ MORE: Fallon: America’s Power Grid is Unprepared to Handle New Biden Administration Regulations

CLICK HERE to watch the full hearing.