Climate Alarmism Behind Christmas Energy Shortages
Never forget that Ebenezer Scrooge was inspired by Thomas Malthus
This Christmas eve, the 65 million Americans who live in between Illinois and New Jersey may be wishing that Santa puts a lump or two of coal in their stockings. That’s because the operators of the PJM electricity grid have declared a rare, system-wide emergency, urging customers to reduce their use of electricity.
“PJM is asking consumers to reduce their use of electricity, if health permits, between the hours of 4 a.m. on December 24, 2022 and 10 a.m. on December 25, 2022,” it wrote in a statement.
Say goodbye to your Christmas lights.
“Electricity customers can take simple electricity conservation steps such as… Turning off non-essential electric lights.”
Nearly 7,000 customers in Pennsylvania “have no choice but to follow PJM Interconnection’s request to use less electricity,” reports a local newspaper.
As recently as December 1, PJM’s grid operators said they could handle the winter cold. “PJM Interconnection and its members,” it claimed, “are prepared to meet the forecast demand for electricity this winter.”
But the nonprofit North American Reliability Corporation (NERC) warned in November that this would happen. “Limited natural gas infrastructure can impact winter reliability,” it wrote. It pointed to the closure of coal and nuclear power plants as threatening shortages.
In other words, the underlying reason for the electricity emergency is the lack of natural gas, nuclear, and coal, which can provide reliable electricity in all weather conditions, unlike solar panels and wind turbines.
It’s true that solar panels and wind turbines can still operate in cold weather. There is often still sunlight and wind when it is cold. Snow can be brushed off of solar panels, and it is possible to de-ice frozen wind turbines.
But the sun often doesn’t shine during the hours people most need electricity and wind is not reliable enough to provide electricity during the winter. Right now, PJM is generating very little electricity from wind and has had to resort to burning oil, which is dirtier and less efficient than coal, and far worse than natural gas or nuclear.
What about batteries? They were supposed to replace New Jersey’s Logan Coal Plant, which its owner destroyed on December 2. But, admitted an analyst with Moody’s Investors Service, “It appears that it’s pretty uneconomic right now to put in batteries.”
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Logan was a small, efficient coal plant that would have been perfect to prevent today’s shortages, but the private-equity behemoth, Starwood Energy Group persuaded Atlantic City Electric and The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to let it destroy the coal plant right before PJM most needed it.
“PJM had to make sure Logan’s shutdown wouldn’t suddenly cause power shortages or other grid failures,” noted a Bloomberg reporter 11 days ago. “New Jersey is trying to build a balanced grid as it transitions to renewables. Because batteries can charge up overnight using cheap power, like wind, and sell it back to the grid during the day, the state is incentivizing companies to install them.”
The Logan power plant was shut down 30 months ahead of schedule.
PJM, Atlantic City Electric, the New Jersey regulators, and Starwood thus all ignored the warning provided by four days of blackouts, which killed hundreds of people in Texas, from February 15 to 18 last year.
The lesson from that blackout was — duh — that states need abundant, reliable energy sources and cannot rely on unreliable, weather-dependent renewables.
Young children are capable of understanding that nuclear, coal, and natural gas are reliable, and solar and wind aren’t, and yet America's most experienced electricity grid operators have once again pushed Americans to the point of freezing to death.
Why is that? Why is it that much of the United States lacks reliable power plants and the pipelines and other infrastructure required to bring natural gas from the fields to the powerplants?