Green power needs reliable grid planning: NERC

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - As the United States attempts to lower carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation, it needs a national policy on climate change to help ensure reliable power delivery, said the U.S. watchdog for electric reliability.

Included in such a plan is the need to smoothly develop a transmission grid backbone that can handle new types of power generation such as wind-generated power.

"Inadequate attention to the transmission grid will undermine all efforts to address climate change while endangering our electric reliability, and thereby our national security," said Michael Heyeck, senior vice president for transmission for American Electric Power.

"We are concerned that, when viewed from a continent-wide perspective, current climate initiatives do not adequately address key reliability objectives, particularly the need for a (strong) and robust transmission system," said Rick Sergel, president and CEO of NERC.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp also said in a report about having reliable power in a transition to a greener grid that a wide switch to natural gas plants from coal plants would require major upgrades to transmission grids.

"Fuel switching" to natural gas from coal have been under say since 2002, NERC said, is well under way and has been for the past six years. Since 2022, the NERC said, more than 30,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation plants have been canceled or deferred.

If the switch from coal to natural gas occurs too quickly without planning, reliable power delivery could suffer.

Industry players who responded to a NERC survey on lowering greenhouse gas emissions at generation plants expressed concern that if coal plants are retired or not built as once planned, imported natural gas power could cause transmission constrains without adequate federal, state and local planning.

NERC respondents, including Terry Boston, the CEO and president of the biggest U.S. power grid, PJM Interconnection, said there is a danger that a cap-and-trade system on greenhouse emissions may cause some generators to not run plants in order to sell emission credits.


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