ND Public Service Commission expresses concerns over power grid reliability as energy transitions to renewable

(ND Energy Development and Transmission Committee)
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 12:41 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KUMV) - As the world works toward moving to renewable energy sources for electricity, utility officials warn that transitioning too fast could cause reliability issues.

On Tuesday, representing Public Service Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak and PSC commissioner Randy Christmann spoke with North Dakota’s Energy Development and Transmission Committee, warning legislators there is not enough renewable development to cover the rapid retirement of many coal plants on the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). He said those plants need to remain online to bridge the gap between megawatts being retired and those being added.

“The obvious way to bridge that gap is to extend the life of existing, already paid for resources that are operating and connected to the grid today. Potential new regulations from the EPA on regional haze and air toxins could exacerbate the capacity crisis facing our electric industry and we need to fight those efforts with full force to enable the existing dispatchable resources we have to remain online,” said Christmann.

According to Fedorchak’s written testimony, 35% of energy consumed in North Dakota came from renewable sources last year, which is one of the highest rates in the nation. She also stresses that officials need to be honest and admit moving to renewable energy will not lower costs in the immediate future.

Most of the power generated throughout North Dakota is collected and spread evenly throughout two systems: MISO or the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). While North Dakota is an electricity-exporting state, customers on these systems could be affected by rolling blackouts if demand exceeds the system’s supply.

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