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Democracy Trailblazers ignite enthusiasm among teen voters; CA monster blizzard batters Tahoe, Mammoth, Sierra amid avalanche warnings; MN transportation sector could be next in line for carbon-free standard; IN teachers 'stunned' by lawmakers' bid to bypass collective bargaining.

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Nikki Haley says she may not endorse the GOP nominee, President Biden says the U-S will continue air-dropping aid into Gaza and more states look at ditching the electoral college for a national popular vote.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Report: Fossil Fuels "Unreliable" During Deep Freeze

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Wednesday, March 22, 2023   

A new report found forced power outages in this winter's extreme weather only added to "unreliability" in the fossil-fuel sector.

The PJM Interconnection is the electricity market including Pennsylvania and a dozen other states. Coal and gas plant owners' failure to honor their reliability commitments may cost them as much as $2 billion in penalties.

Dennis Wamsted, energy analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and the report's author, said some states saw rolling blackouts, and PJM used emergency measures to keep the lights on in Pennsylvania. Wamsted argued it all makes the case for renewable energy as an alternative.

"We are an organization that favors the transition to renewables," Wamsted explained. "We think renewable energies like solar, wind, battery storage, are here today. They are reliable today, they are cheaper than fossil fuels, and they also don't pollute the air, and solve, you know, a lot of our climate change problems."

The report noted in the PJM system, with more than 32,000 megawatts of gas and 7,600 megawatts of coal capacity, were offline at the height of the cold, despite substantial capacity payments PJM pays generators to be available at critical times.

Wamsted pointed out hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were left without power because of the severe storm, and customers in the Carolinas and the seven states in the Tennessee Valley Authority service territory saw outages. He noted there were no rolling blackouts in the Keystone State, but notifications were sent to customers to prepare for the possibility of an outage.

"And so they didn't get to the point where they actually had to turn people's lights off," Wamsted recounted. "They were getting close to that in the sort of a warning structure, and they were appealing to customers to, you know, cooperate and help reduce demand. And that actually does work. "

The report showed the problems associated with the outages prompted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to launch a joint inquiry into the events surrounding the December freeze and the performance of the nation's bulk power system.

Disclosure: The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Energy Policy, Environment, and Urban Planning/Transportation. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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