National Business Groups Send U.S. Dept. of Energy Analyses Showing Diverse Energy Sources Protect Electric Reliability

May 16, 2017

Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 16, 2017 — Today four national business groups representing the range of advanced and renewable energy companies in the United States submitted materials to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to inform the energy market study he called for last month. The four groups developed separate analyses, based on existing sources and industry experience, showing that changing energy sources – more use of natural gas, renewable energy, and energy management sources in addition to resources like coal and nuclear power – far from threatening electric system reliability, increase it in important ways while saving consumers money.

In their transmittal letter, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expressed “disappointment” that they had received no response to their call for an open, transparent process with stakeholder input to inform the 60-day study by the Department of Energy (DOE), which Perry called for in an April 14 memo.

The groups also expressed concern that the study could be based on “a faulty premise” – “that renewable generation is responsible for the retirement of coal and nuclear generation resources, and that the loss of those resources will lead to declining reliability of the grid.”

Concluding that the topic of the study was “too important for DOE to be deprived of the expertise and insights of those in the industries we represent,” the four industry organizations submitted separate documents to inform the DOE in its study of the electric power system and reliability:

  • AEE: Changing the Power Grid for the Better – shows that today’s electric generation mix is more diverse than ever; low-priced gas primarily driving change in resources, followed by flat load growth and competition from renewables; ERCOT and PJM experience shows reliable grid management with high degree of variable renewables and even in extreme conditions.
  • AWEA: Renewable Energy Builds a More Reliable and Resilient Electricity Mix. Grid operators are already reliably integrating large amounts of wind energy, and their studies show they can go much higher. Integrating renewables on the power grid costs less than integrating baseload sources; modern power electronics enable renewables to provide reliability services as well as or better than conventional power plants; and renewables diversify the energy mix, improving economics and resiliency. Renewables are not the primary factor undermining baseload sources – as can be seen by maps of where each is predominately located, cheap natural gas is the primary factor.
  • SEIA: Solar & Renewables Benefit Grid & The U.S. EconomySolar and renewables provide significant advantages to the national grid in terms of reliability, fuel diversity and national security. This SEIA review highlights multiple studies showing that the existing grid can handle high penetrations of renewable energy to the benefit of ratepayers, grid system operators and system performance.

In the letter transmitting these materials to DOE, the groups concluded: “We believe that, taken together, these reports demonstrate that the U.S. electric power system is more diverse in its energy sources than ever before, and due to the flexible way these resources are now managed, becoming more reliable and resilient as a result.” 

BACKGROUND
In a memo dated April 14 to his chief of staff (Brian McCormack), Secretary Perry directed the Department of Energy to conduct a study that would “explore critical issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electric grid,” and to analyze "market-distorting effects of federal subsidies that boost one form of energy at the expense of others," and to report back in 60 days from April 19.

On April 28, the business trade groups sent a joint letter to Sec. Perry asking that the DOE “initiate a public process,” and that the study “follow standard practice and be conducted in an open and transparent manner,” noting that it is “customary” for agencies developing reports that provide policy recommendations to allow public comment on a draft, prior to the report being finalized. No reply was received. DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told Axios on May 5: "The findings will be released to the public (including stakeholders) once the study is completed this summer. The Secretary looks forward to receiving input from all parties once that occurs."

BACKGROUND MATERIALS
AWEA literature review for DOE Grid Study
AWEA slides: Renewable energy builds a more reliable and resilient electricity mix
http://info.aee.net/changing-the-power-grid-for-the-better
(transmittal letter also available here)
http://www.acore.org/energyfactcheck_gridstudy
http://awea.files.cms-plus.com/FileDownloads/pdfs/AWEA Renewable Energy Builds a More Reliable and Resilient Electricity Mix.pdf
http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-renewables-benefit-grid-us-economy

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE INDUSTRY GROUPS:
Advanced Energy Economy at www.aee.net
American Council on Renewable Energy at www.acore.org
American Wind Energy Association at windworksforamerica.awea.org
Solar Energy Industries Association at www.seia.org

MEDIA CONTACTS:
AEE, Monique Hanis, mhanis@aee.net, 202-391-0884
ACORE, Anna Hahnemann, hahnemann@acore.org, 202-777-7548
AWEA, Evan Vaughan, evaughan@awea.org, 202-383-2508
SEIA, Alexandra Hobson, ahobson@seia.org, 202-556-2886

AWEA is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. We represent 1,000 member companies and over 100,000 jobs in the U.S. economy, serving as a powerful voice for how wind works for America. Members include global leaders in wind power and energy development, turbine manufacturing, and component and service suppliers. They gather each year at the Western Hemisphere’s largest wind power trade show, the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, next in Anaheim, California, May 22-26, 2017. Find information about wind energy on the AWEA website. Gain insight into industry issues on AWEA's blog, Into the Wind. And please join us on Facebook, and follow @AWEA on Twitter.