Senator Brown and Ohio's Energy Advocate Express Electricity Reliability Concerns

U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C.

Columbus, OH-U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Ohio, and three fellow senators, sent a joint letter to the EPA, to share concerns for the agency’s proposed rule on power plant emissions, stating it could have an unintended negative impact on electricity reliability and affordability.

The letter comes after numerous national news reports on the winter assessment released by NERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, in November 2023. The assessment stated the Eastern United States, including Ohio, is at risk of rolling power outages during an extreme cold event this winter. The assessment cited the number of power plants that have closed and the growing demand for electricity.

The letter stated, “We encourage you to strengthen this proposal by working with stakeholders from labor and industry to build consensus prior to putting forward a final rule that accomplishes our shared goals of maintaining affordable, reliable power; protecting American energy independence; protecting jobs; and lowering emissions.

The letter cited new technologies on the horizon that EPA is promoting to achieve lower power plant emissions, but went on to state, “unfortunately, EPA’s recent power plant rule overestimates the current and anticipated maturity of these promising technologies, to the detriment of American workers and consumers. While we hope these technologies will be available in the near future, we cannot ask our constituents to bear the cost of that risk in the form of significantly higher utility bills and unreliable electricity.”

“A final EPA power plant rule must reflect these realities and rely on the proven technology as we
continue to pursue innovation, commercialization, and technological breakthroughs. While the U.S. energy generation mix includes a growing share of renewables, we are reliant for now on our dispatchable and baseload generation capacity. We believe there is a balanced approach to achieve a clean energy future while preserving the reliability of the electric grid.”

Also, similar concerns were raised by Ohio's Federal Energy Advocate this week. The Ohio advocate team is within the state’s public utilities commission and is responsible for monitoring federal energy policies and advocating for Ohio’s electricity consumers. 

The advocate urged FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to keep a close eye on the number of power plants closing in Ohio, and the number of new resources coming online to replace them. 
The advocate specifically expressed concerns over the 2030 projections made by Ohio’s electric grid manager, PJM, that new power generation will be insufficient to keep up with the expected increase in demand for electricity and the retirement of power plants. That means Ohioans would be at risk of rolling outages or blackouts. 

"While the Ohio FEA supports PJM's objective to ensure resource adequacy and secure reliability through competitive markets, a concerning trend of resource retirements outpacing new generation coming online presents increasing reliability risks," Ohio's advocate wrote.

Sources: Gongwer Report

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