Power Grid Will Be More Vulnerable Due To New Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rules, Experts Claim

Tara Dodrill - Author

Jan. 16 2015, Updated 12:05 p.m. ET

The power grid will become even more vulnerable if the proposed federal greenhouse gas emissions rules are enacted, some energy experts maintain. The power grid will weaken as a result of the new EPA gas emissions standards and prompt blackouts, if predictions about the electrical grid are accurate.

The EPA is pushing for carbon dioxide emissions from energy plants to generate 30 percent less greenhouse gas by 2030 than the level set forth in rules passed in 2005. The Environmental Protection Agency has reportedly received millions of complaints about the proposed energy plant emissions standards and power grid worries since the Clean Power Plan was released.

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The United States power grid has more blackouts than any other country in the developed world, according to new data that spotlights the country’s aging and unreliable electric system. The data by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) shows that Americans face more power grid failures lasting at least an hour than residents of other developed nations.

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Going back three decades, the United States grid loses power 285 percent more often than it did in 1984, when record keeping began. The power outages cost businesses in the United States as much as $150 billion per year, according to the Department of Energy. The grid is often called America’s glass jaw because of the nation’s reliability on it and also due to its many weaknesses, such as its vulnerability to a domino effect because it is interconnected. There are about 5,800 power plants and 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the U.S., many of them decades old and a large portion of them connected to one another.

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Chief executive of the New York Independent System Operator, Stephen Whitley, feels the Clean Energy Plan the threatens power plants which are critical to NYC. Such plants reportedly often have to burn carbon-emitting fuel oil to generate electricity. Whitley explained that New York power plants can have a difficult time getting natural gas deliveries during peak demand seasons.

In early 2014, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the electrical grid a grade of D+ when it evaluated the system for security and other vulnerabilities. The D+ grade meant that the grid was in “poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life.”

The report also maintained that a “large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration” with a “strong risk of failure.”

An excerpt from the American Society of Civil Engineers report reads as follows.

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“America relies on an aging electrical grid and pipeline distribution systems, some of which originated in the 1880s. Investment in power transmission has increased since 2005, but ongoing permitting issues, weather events, and limited maintenance have contributed to an increasing number of failures and power interruptions. While demand for electricity has remained level, the availability of energy in the form of electricity, natural gas, and oil will become a greater challenge after 2020 as the population increases. Although about 17,000 miles of additional high-voltage transmission lines and significant oil and gas pipelines are planned over the next five years, permitting and siting issues threaten their completion. The electric grid in the United States consists of a system of interconnected power generation, transmission facilities, and distribution facilities.”

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The EPA claims that the Clean Power Plan will ensure compliance with President Barack Obama’s greenhouse gases reduction mission “while also ensuring a reliable energy supply for the future.”

What do you think about the greenhouse gases emissions regulations proposed by the EPA? Would your family survive if the power grid failed for only a few weeks or months?

[Image via: Shutterstock.com]


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