North Dakota Study Issues Warning

Today’s hot topic is about President Joe Biden’s aggressive climate regulations.

These new rules are stirring up quite a storm, particularly regarding their impact on the U.S. electric grid. A recent study commissioned by North Dakota’s state government is raising some serious concerns.

So, what’s the fuss all about? Let’s break it down.

According to the study conducted by Always On Energy Research, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new regulations on fossil-fuel-fired power plants could lead to widespread electric grid instability and mass blackouts. These findings echo the worries voiced by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, regional grid operators, and power utility companies. In fact, four regional grid operators, responsible for the power supply to 154 million Americans, warned that the grid’s reliability would drop to “concerning levels” under these regulations.

Doug Burgum, North Dakota’s governor, didn’t mince words. He told the Washington Free Beacon, “Biden’s Green Agenda is shutting down baseload power and is rapidly destabilizing our electrical grid.” Burgum emphasized that electricity costs have already risen by 30% under Biden and predicted prices would continue to skyrocket if Biden is re-elected. The governor pointed out the increasing power demand for new industries like chip manufacturing and artificial intelligence.

The crux of the issue lies in the EPA’s finalized regulations, which demand existing coal plants reduce their carbon footprint by 90% by 2032. This mandate could force most coal plants across the country to shut down within the next two decades. Additionally, the regulations impose strict emissions reductions on new natural-gas-fired power plants operating more than 20% of the time.

In states like North Dakota, where coal-fired power plants generate more than half of the electricity, the impact will be particularly severe. The state’s four largest power plants are all coal-fired, and North Dakota ranks as the sixth-largest coal-producing state in the country. The study by Always On Energy Research highlighted several economic consequences of these rules, including higher compliance costs for coal plant operators, reduced competitiveness, expedited coal retirements, higher electricity prices, and supply chain issues for coal-reliant industries.

The study also underscored the social and economic justice issues arising from these regulations. It noted that the increased costs, compounded by inflation, would negatively affect the affordability of electric and gas services, disproportionately impacting low-income citizens. With North Dakota’s high rural population, this could create significant hardships.

A key concern is the reliability of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, which are set to replace coal plants. According to the Energy Information Administration, solar panels produce only 25% of their listed capacity, and wind turbines 34%, compared to coal and natural gas plants’ 49% and 54%, respectively. The study warned that the grid across much of the Midwest could experience nearly 9 million megawatt hours of unserved load, leading to blackouts costing tens of billions of dollars.

Paige Lambermont, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, criticized the EPA’s power plant rule, calling it “exactly the wrong thing to be doing for grid reliability right now.” She argued that closing facilities that maintain grid functionality while encouraging less reliable renewable sources would have dire consequences.

The EPA, however, defends its regulations. EPA spokeswoman Angela Hackel pointed out that past regulations like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and Good Neighbor Rule have reduced pollution while supporting grid reliability. She assured that the new rule would achieve similar results and mentioned that the EPA is reviewing the North Dakota study.

With the EPA poised to finalize additional regulations on natural gas power plants soon, the stakes are high for the future of the U.S. power sector.