A month ago, Energy Secretary Rick Perry unveiled a review studying the ways in which intermittent renewables are affecting grid stability. Immediately Democrats jumped on it as an example of the Trump administration going after clean energy. Now, Iowan Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is lending his voice to that chorus of boos as he criticizes what he sees is a policy “meant to undermine” wind energy, a major industry in his home state. Reuters reports:
“I’m concerned that a hastily developed study, which appears to pre-determine that variable, renewable resources such as wind have undermined grid reliability, will not be viewed as credible, relevant or worthy of valuable taxpayer resources,” wrote Grassley, whose state is home to a booming wind energy industry.
In the letter, Grassley also asked Perry which grid-reliability organizations and experts were involved in the study, how much it would cost taxpayers and whether the report would be open for public comment.
Unlike many of the Democrats that have criticized this review, Grassley isn’t doing so to placate his environmentalist base, but rather his constituents that rely on the fast growing wind energy industry for work.
Still, Perry is right: this is something that needs further scrutiny, especially if we’re going to see renewables take on a larger share of the national energy mix. Wind and solar energy rely on the vagaries of weather to supply power, and as a result they place a lot of strain on electricity transportation infrastructure that was designed with more consistent power sources in mind.
We can’t ignore the politics behind this, but neither should we pretend that we’re ready for the sorts of wind and solar growth most analysts are now predicting in the coming years as they become more cost competitive. Rick Perry comes from the biggest wind producing state in the country, so he understands what renewables are capable of. As Energy secretary, he’ll need to look out for our grids if he wants to be a good steward of these fledgling power sources going forward.