The Trump administration may be in the process of expunging sections of a draft grid reliability study ordered by Energy Secretary Rick Perry in April, after career staff in Perry’s department reached conclusions that ran counter to his original intentions for the report.
“The power system is more reliable today due to better planning, market discipline, and better operating rules and standards,” staff concluded in a leaked draft of the report, released Friday by the Bloomberg news agency. “Grid operators are using technologies, standards, and practices to assure that they can continue operating the grid reliably,” it states, adding that environmental regulations and renewable energy subsidies “played minor roles compared to the long-standing drop in electricity demand relative to previous expectation and years of low electric prices driven by high natural gas availability.”
All of which was an unfortunate twist for Trump’s conceptually-challenged energy secretary, who ordered the study “to back up his claims that solar and wind power were undermining the U.S. electric grid’s reliability,” as Climate Progress Founding Editor Joseph Romm recalls.
The report could be released as early as next week.
But until then, the draft is “subject to change by Perry and his team of Trump appointees,” Romm notes, “so the big question is whether the Trump administration will erase those findings in the final draft.” And sure enough, a DOE spokesperson told Bloomberg “those statements as written are not in the current draft,” though the news agency specified that she “wouldn’t say they are incorrect, just the draft is ‘constantly evolving.’”
Romm traces the very real likelihood that the study is actually “devolving” to fit Perry’s preconceived, evidence-free notion that renewables could threaten U.S. national security by undermining baseload electricity sources like coal and nuclear.
“Just a few weeks ago, Perry told a major energy conference that his grid study was ‘a critical review of regulatory burdens placed by the previous administration on baseload generators,’” Romm recalls. “Ironically, the very next speaker, Colette Honorable, a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), disputed Perry. ‘I have seen no problems with reliability,’ she said. ‘Bring on more renewables.’”