July 18, 2017
Rick Perry Should Release Draft Grid Reliability Study – Undoctored
Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director Public Citizen’s Energy Program
Contrary to Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s repeated statements, a draft U.S. Department of Energy study ordered by Perry into the reliability of the electric grid concludes that the rise of renewable energy has resulted in a more resilient and reliable energy system and that the electric grid has never been more reliable than it is today.
This conclusion, detailed by Bloomberg, is consistent with numerous other independent assessments.
The report should be released as is.
However, the Trump administration has a record of distorting facts, attacking science and using government agencies to push partisan, false narratives. Partisan, corporate hacks in the White House who are determined to funnel subsidies to uneconomic coal, nuclear and natural gas plants – disrupting power markets in the process – likely will override any factual assessment of the nation’s energy grid.
The Trump administration already employs censorship by removing mention of climate change from government websites. It also deleted a sentence linking climate change to sea level from a press release on a U.S. Department of Interior study.
Attempts by the Trump administration to doctor or distort the findings of scientific studies – including this latest report from the Energy Department – to achieve a political outcome must be stopped. We call on Rick Perry to release the unadulterated scientific conclusions of the study.
This is a well-worn playbook. During the George W. Bush era, political appointees censored climate science, setting back our ability to fight the global climate crisis for nearly a decade. We can’t afford for another administration to obstruct progress and undermine the scientific community.
The poor economics of merchant coal and nuclear power plants are the result of three prominent trends: increasingly cheap renewable energy, flat demand and inexpensive fracked natural gas. In some markets, including California and Texas, renewables are so plentiful and inexpensive that they are driving natural gas out of business.
The rise of renewables is important and constructive for consumers and the climate. Upending this trend for the purpose of funding expensive lifeline subsidies to uneconomic coal, nuclear and natural gas units is bad policy.
To halt this potential abuse of authority, the Department of Energy should release the draft report before political appointees alter the content for political purposes.