Power producers say squeezing fossil fuels will worsen the strains on the grid, though EPA’s backers say those risks are manageable.
The Biden administration’s new greenhouse gas rule is designed to drive drastic changes in how U.S. power companies produce electricity — but utilities say it could escalate the risk of outages as it squeezes fossil fuel plants into retirement.
Power producers are already warning that the rule threatens to compromise the power network’s reliability by pushing their older, dirtier coal and gas plants into retirement at an even faster pace than they are closing now. They say it’s especially worrisome if the plants aren’t replaced as quickly as they shut down.
Power outages reached an all-time high in 2020 and are on the rise because of major climate-fueled weather disasters, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The average person went seven hours without power in 2021 compared with less than four hours in 2013.
Meanwhile, the shift to electric vehicles and a push to switch other types of energy demand to electricity is expected to boost U.S. power consumption by 12 percent to 22 percent between 2021 and 2030, requiring a significant increase in generation capacity.
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