“I think the entire country is incredibly vulnerable, because the entire country is facing a huge energy shortage and I don’t think there is any place that is truly safe,” Daniel Turner, founder and executive director at Power the Future, told Fox News.
At issue are blackouts that could become widespread across the country this summer as grid operators struggle to meet the increased demand, a problem that has plagued some states for years but now could threaten much of the country.
Turner said some states are under increased threat this year, especially those that have made political pushes to switch over to so-called sources of “green energy.”
“The areas of the country I’d be most concerned about are the ones that already have inherent weaknesses,” Turner said. “Texas, California, New Mexico, New York, all of New England. These are areas whose policies and political decisions have weakened their electric grid.”
The potential outages come as many states have moved to quickly take plants that produce traditional sources of energy such as coal and natural gas offline and switch production over to renewable energy sources, which currently do not have the capacity to keep up with the demand of a hot summer.
Part of the issue with renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar is that it is dependent on variables outside human control, with some areas not having enough wind or sunshine to continuously produce power. Batteries are in development that could help store excess energy production for later use, but the technology is currently expensive and not fully developed.
That could force grid operators into tough decisions to maintain the integrity of the overall electric grid when demand picks up, but Turner argues that the move to renewable energy is a mistake altogether.
The Midwest is particularly vulnerable this summer, even though it has for decades been more immune to the rolling blackouts and brownouts that typically plague the West.
Regulators in Illinois have warned of controlled outages that could occur this summer, with one electric company sending a warning letter to customers during potential heatwaves.
“A recent generation capacity auction has revealed that the Midwest could fall short of needed generation capacity to serve the summer peak load under certain conditions,” SouthEastern Illinois Electrical Cooperative said in the letter. “In the event that this happens, your Cooperative would be directed to disconnect a portion of the load in order to prevent an electric grid failure.”
Critics have blamed the potential shortages on Illinois Gov. Jay Pritzker’s vow to move the state to 100% renewable energy by 2045, which has caused investment in traditional sources of energy generation to plummet.
“If you look at any country worldwide, or any state in America, that has pushed green energy mandates by government action, not one of them has been successful,” Turner argued. “And you can measure that on multiple levels of success, in terms of what they’ve actually purported to or claim that they would produce in terms of electricity, reliability, cost. In terms of actual construction, or cost to the consumers.”
Grid operators in Michigan have also been bracing for the possibility of blackouts this summer, with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s seasonal assessment finding “capacity shortfalls in both the north and central regions of MISO… leaving those areas at increased risk of temporary, controlled outages to preserve the integrity of the bulk electric system,” JT Smith, the MISO executive director, told NPR last month.
Michigan has been one of the states pushing to switch over to renewable energy sources while simultaneously taking traditional plants offline, with the Michigan Public Service Commission currently considering taking two more plants offline in the near future.
“Michigan is going down the same route that before it, New Mexico has gone, California has gone,” Turner said.
Electric companies in the state have resorted to calls for action, taking to social media to urge their customers to demand the state keep the plants online.
“We need your help to keep the lights on in Michigan this summer and beyond,” Thumb Electric Cooperative General Manager Dallas Braun said on Facebook Monday. “Electric reliability is at risk today and demand is projected to grow. As soon as this WEEK Michigan regulators are considering closing down more power plants in Michigan. Please join ME in telling them that reliability matters and that they shouldn’t prematurely close these plants.”
Joe Trotter, the Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force director for the American Legislative Exchange Council, told Fox News last month that policymakers should be more aware of the impact their decisions will have on their constituents.
“Our leaders need to be real cognizant of the day-to-day impact,” Trotter said. “It’s great to look at the future, but the present has a huge impact on their constituencies.”
Meanwhile, Turner argued that the outages are most likely to affect people from poor and minority neighborhoods.
“They will choose what neighborhoods go into darkness,” Turner said. “Historically, when we have done this, we have chosen poor and usually minority neighborhoods to do that.”
Previously planned power outages in states such as California have a history of disproportionately impacting poor neighborhoods, including one instance in 2019 where a poor, mostly Hispanic neighborhood in Sonoma County had its power cut for eight days in October. The deliberate outages not only plunged residents of the area into darkness for days, but the resulting food spoilage strained already tight budgets.
“Even if the electricity doesn’t arrive… the bills do,” one resident said at the time.
“Look who they shut off. Have you ever seen a Kardashian complain about lack of power, or Silicon Valley… Facebook’s headquarters? They’re all fine… they’re never the ones plunged into darkness,” Turner said.
Turner noted that there are trade-offs when policymakers decide to switch to renewable sources of energy, arguing that one such trade-off is increased suffering for people.
“Just watch and see what neighborhoods get turned off,” he continued. “Watch and see what happens in neighborhoods in California, New Mexico, and New York that are turned off the grid. That will tell you what our politicians think about their constituents and will tell you what effect the green agenda has on our country.”
But some argue that renewable energy sources are not the problem, instead pointing to climate change-driven heatwaves that stress the grid beyond its limits, regardless of what source of energy is used.
“Climate change is fueling extreme heat, droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes, which are overtaxing America’s outdated power grid,” Climate Nexus said in an analysis earlier this month, citing a North American Electric Reliability Corporation report that argued “extreme temperatures, ongoing drought, and supply chain issues could strain the power grid in vast regions across the country.”
The analysis noted that there is a “growing rate of record-breaking climate events,” which it argued contributes to both climate change and the stress it places on the grid.
“Fossil fuels are both a root cause and exacerbating influence on these blackout events,” the analysis reads. “The extraction and burning of oil, gas, and coal are the primary drivers of climate change, while outdated fossil infrastructure accompanied by wild market volatility have made these fuel sources expensive and unreliable.”
But Turner argues that there are few rewards for the environment when grids switch over to wind and solar.
“The notion that they have baptized themselves as green is a joke,” Turner said. “They use more fossil fuels in the production, installation, and then the redundancies of wind and solar than if they just burn those fossil fuels directly to make electricity. So the idea that they’re green is just purely a lie.”
“It just amazes me that we look at this, we look at all the data, and politicians are still hell-bent on pushing renewable energy when it’s proven to be nothing but a failure,” he added.
Turned said that the U.S. was already the cleanest country in the world before the push toward renewable energy sources.
“We all want clean air and clear water and a clean earth. No one does it better than the United States of America. By far we are the cleanest nation on Earth,” Turner said, adding that the switch from reliable energy sources will “plunge entire neighborhoods into darkness.”
He pointed to other examples of countries that have been ahead of the U.S. on switching to wind and solar such as Germany, arguing that people there have still yet to see any benefit from the transition.
“Germany pays the highest electricity price for the developed world. … they pay almost five times what we do for electricity,” Turner said.
The move towards renewables has also caused Germany to be dependent on Russian natural gas to fill the void in their capacity, while the country has even begun to bring some coal plants back online. They have also resorted to buying energy from neighboring France, which produced over 80% of its electricity with nuclear power.
Turner believes nuclear could be a solution in the U.S. as well, but he notes that a move to more nuclear energy would receive plenty of pushback.
“Nuclear is absolutely one of the strongest solutions. Nuclear is absolutely a viable solution that has the smallest footprint,” Turner said. “The biggest problem nuclear has against it is there is a very aggressive and very effective fear campaign.”
Turner placed much of the blame for the current situation on the Biden administration, considering President Biden’s renewal of the push to switch the country over to wind and solar.
But energy prices are now soaring as families already deal with decades-high inflation, leaving little hope for relief in the near future.
“Natural gas right now is trading at probably more than three times what it should,” Turner said. “There are runs on natural gas, we have a huge shortage of it and the price is insane. Coal is probably four times what it should be, and these are all the results of Biden’s energy policies.”
The rush to convert to renewable energy has not been limited to Democratic administrations, with Republican-run Texas having outage issues amid a transition to wind power.
A winter storm last year caused widespread outages across Texas, with many of the windmills that failed being deliberately turned off, so they wouldn’t freeze. The problem was exacerbated because the state lacked adequate backup from natural gas plants to keep the lights on in many communities.
“It’s bipartisan stupidity,” Turner said. “It was Republican governors of Texas who for years pushed renewable energy mandates. If that can happen in Texas, then we’re doomed as a country.”
“There was no backup. Why? Because Republican governors bought into this lie that all we need is wind and we’ll be fine,” Turner said.
Texas’ vulnerability to outages has already started to show this year, with the state needing to dip into power reserves already this month amid a surge in demand.
Grid operators in Texas insist that they have the resources in reserve to power the state through the coming summer months, while Texas Oil & Gas Association President Todd Staples said the state “has excess capacity available when plants are online and renewables are able to put power on the grid.”
But Turner is skeptical, arguing that policymakers should start pushing back against the “green agenda.”
“It takes an awful lot of political courage to say ‘this is all just a load of nonsense, right?,’” he said. “These are failed technologies, very expensive technologies, made in Chinese slave camp technologies, and they’re not green, that’s the biggest lie.
“My question for the Biden administration or any other governors is, why do you continue to go down this path?”