Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Mark Christie warned of the potential for “catastrophic consequences” for the reliability of the American power grid if the U.S. does not stop phasing out fossil fuel infrastructure before renewable infrastructure is capable of replacing its output.
Christie made the remarks as part of his testimony at a Tuesday hearing held by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “I think we’re heading for potentially very dire consequences, potentially catastrophic consequences in the United States in terms of the reliability of our grid, and I think that the basic reason is that we’re facing a shortfall of power supply,” Christie testified.
The stark warning from one of the federal government’s top energy regulators comes as the Biden administration continues to clamp down on fossil fuel production and infrastructure. Biden personally pledged a “guarantee” that his administration would “end fossil fuel” as a candidate for the presidency in 2019.
“The problem is not the addition of wind and solar. The problem is the subtraction of coal and gas and other dispatchable resources which are the ones we need during this transition to keep the lights on. That’s the fundamental problem,” Christie continued. “The grid has to have power being fed into it every second of every minute of every hour of every day to keep the lights on.”
Christie warned that continued “cascading retirements” of coal and natural gas power plants in the U.S. could lead to energy shortages and outages for the country’s power grid. The grid must “have a power supply that is feeding into the grid on a continuous basis” in order to stay operational at all times and avoid outages, he added.
Chevron CEO and Chairman Mike Wirth pleaded with Biden to adopt “a change in approach” to his administration’s energy policies in a June 2022 exchange of letters with Biden. While several legislative proposals and compromises have occurred since then, the overall tenor of the administration’s energy policy has not changed much.
A May 2023 grid reliability assessment report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation identified elevated risk for blackouts in more extreme summer weather conditions for Americans living in most of New England and nearly all of the country west of the Mississippi River.
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