by Lowman S. Henry | October 11, 2023

When you flip the switch to turn on a light how often do you think about how the electricity got to that light? Chances are you do not; dependable electric power is something most Americans take for granted. But that could be about to change.

The Biden Administration’s war on fossil fuels coupled with a growing dependence on unreliable alternative fuels is already stressing the nation’s electric grid. Oil rich Texas narrowly escaped black outs in mid-September due to an over-reliance on alternative sources of electric production.

Speaking on American Radio Journal Merrill Matthews from the Dallas-based Institute for Policy Innovation explained that Texas has the largest wind electric generation capacity in the nation. However, summer heat extended into September creating a “heat dome” which quelled the winds thus substantially reducing power generation. Heading into Fall there were fewer hours of daylight so solar generation was unable to back fill the capacity. This prompted ERCOT, which manages the Texas power grid, to warn of potential black outs, which the system narrowly averted.

At the same time the Biden Administration was ramping up its war on fossil fuels that began on the President’s very first day in office. He launched the initial attack by shutting down construction of the Keystone XL pipeline which would have brought dependable Canadian oil into the mix.

His administration has restricted drilling in both ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and restricted leases in the Alaskan National Petroleum Reserve. Recently, the Biden Administration issued a proposed rule that would severely limit offshore oil and gas leases along the nation’s coasts – potentially scaling back the issuance of new leases to zero.

The cumulative result of these policy decisions will be to bring to a trickle the tapping of our nation’s vast oil and natural gas reserves. This will not only make us more reliant on undependable foreign imports but will starve the electric grid of generation capacity the vast majority of which is still dependent on fossil fuels.

n the other side of the coin federal policy is pushing hard to convert the nation’s vehicle fleet from gas and diesel to electric power. These ideologically-driven policies have vastly outpaced both technology and consumer demand for costly and limited range electric vehicles. Little though has been given as to where the electric generating capacity will come from to fuel such a proposed increase in demand other than to foolishly claim alternative fuels will fill the gap – which they will not.

The same radical environmentalists crippling fossil fuel production also engage against any plan to build new power plants. Any effort to build a new power plant must run an insurmountable gauntlet of federal and state regulations meaning it will be years – if ever – before substantial new capacity comes on-line.

While radical Greens promote undependable solar and wind power there are also serious concerns about having solar panels replacing trees (which rid the atmosphere of carbon dioxide) and solar farm impact on storm water run-off. Wind turbines have an often fatal impact on migratory birds and sea creatures. Nuclear – the most reliable and efficient source of power – also generates strong opposition from environmentalists, and faces regulatory hurdles which prevent the construction of new plants.

Given the unreliability of alternative power generation there will be more blackout near misses such as occurred last month in Texas. Can such a situation occur in Penn’s Woods? Our power grid is less dependent on wind and solar generation than Texas, but efforts by the Shaprio Administration to require a larger percentage of alternative fuels to be inputted into the grid threaten dependability. Once again far-Left ideology is outpacing the technology to sustain it.

And concern is starting to set in. The Lincoln Institute’s Fall 2023 Keystone Business Climate Survey of business owners and top line executives found 36% are somewhat or very concerned about the dependability of our state’s electric grid. Only 15% of the respondents are “not at all concerned.” Pennsylvania is one of the largest manufacturing states in the nation and electricity is a key input into most manufacturing processes. Hence any disruption to the electric supply would have a devastating impact on our state’s economy.

The bottom line here is that forcing the conversion to electric vehicles before ensuring an adequate and dependable supply of electric power is putting the cart before the horse – and if we continue down this path – we will again be riding in horse drawn carts.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal and American Radio Journal. His e-mail address is [email protected].)

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