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The Real Threat to Grid Reliability

Author Myriam Alexander-Kearns discusses the greatest threat to grid reliability: climate change.

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idea_bulbThe Southwest United States is known for its hot, dry land and the occasional wildfire. Over recent years, however, the region has witnessed more frequent and destructive wildfires, longer heat waves and droughts, and lower-than-ever water levels. Each of these extreme weather events is a symptom of climate change and can cause significant damage to the electricity grid, which relies on steady water levels and occasional heat relief to produce and reliably distribute electricity to consumers.

On August 3, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, finalized the Clean Power Plan, which will cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Since the EPA proposed the rule, opponents have attempted to paint it—inaccurately—as a threat to the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid.

To provide concerned stakeholders with additional assurances, the EPA included new provisions in the final Clean Power Plan that give states greater flexibility to develop an implementation plan that cleans up power plants while keeping the lights on. Moreover, Clean Power Plan critics refuse to acknowledge that the rule serves to fight the actual greatest threat to grid reliability: climate change.

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