This is the time of year when Americans give thanks for the divine miracle of air conditioning. Next summer that may not work out. The New York Times reports that new EPA regulations may lead to the shuttering of a number of coal-fired power plants that contribute significantly to our power grid, already taxed in the summer heat. More troubling than the closures themselves is the lack of foresight on the part of the EPA:
Robert W. Perciasepe, the deputy administrator of the E.P.A., said his agency had not estimated all the [power plant] retirements that would be set off by rules it was still preparing. His agency, he said, was trying to move promptly through rulemaking and “provide the rational basis for utility planning, instead of this continually rolling ball of uncertainty, which allows people to speculate, and creates a situation where it’s very difficult for competent utility planners to do the work they need to do.”
This is a startling admission — in its zeal to implement new environmental regulations, the EPA neglected to consider such trivialities as energy demand, the effect on the power grid or the need to replace shuttered plants. Greens point to cleaner gas-powered generators as the solution, but these take time to build and may not be able to make up for the lost production until years in the future.
As usual for the green movement, they have gone about this backwards. Good energy policy begins with the objective of assuring a cheap and reliable energy supply. Then comes the time to tweak and modify that plan to include environmental objectives. Instead, sweeping changes are mandated from above with no consideration of the realities of the energy market, while customers are expected to sweat it out until someone else comes up with a solution. Prepare for a hot summer, whatever happens to the climate.