For more than a decade, Texas regulators have set about to design an electrical system that prioritizes the construction of renewable energy over the management, maintenance and construction of more reliable energy sources. But in the wake of the massive blackouts that occurred in Texas in February, even renewable energy's defenders had to publicly admit that renewables are, at best, “reliably unreliable.” That means that, even though renewables can be outfitted to work in extreme cold, the wind and solar resources are usually the weakest when they are needed the most. Therefore, utilities must build redundant reliable generation, like fossil fuels or nuclear, to provide the energy that renewables can’t.
Michigan is rapidly moving toward the same sort of heavy reliance on renewable energy that Texas and California have targeted. In fact, DTE and Consumers Energy, Michigan’s two largest monopoly utilities, have both committed to close the majority of their more reliable, coal generation assets and one of their nuclear plants. In their place, both utilities plan to build more solar and wind.
At this event, Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center, and Brent Bennett, Ph.D., policy director for Life:Powered, an initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, will discuss the implications of designing an electricity grid that relies heavily on “reliably unreliable” energy sources, like wind and solar. As the Texas Legislature is locked in fierce debates over crucial energy reforms, Michigan would do well to pay attention and learn the lessons that Texas is learning the hard way. Joseph Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center, will provide opening remarks.
Thursday, April 22, 2021
11:00 a.m. to Noon EDT
Online virtual program
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Brent Bennett, Ph.D., is the policy director for Life:Powered, an initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation to raise America’s energy IQ. As part of the Life:Powered team, Dr. Bennett regularly speaks with policymakers, energy experts, and industry associations across the country. He has written extensively on how America has improved its environment while growing its energy use and on future energy technologies. As a native of Midland, Texas —the heart of the oil patch— and a current resident of Austin, Texas, Dr. Bennett is a passionate student of energy and proponent of freedom and human flourishing.
Jason Hayes is the director of Environmental Policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Jason has spent almost three decades studying and working in environmental and energy policy. He worked as a backcountry ranger in British Columbia’s provincial parks, as a forester in British Columbia’s boreal forest, and researched National Parks management and grizzly bear biology with the Fraser Institute in Calgary, Alberta. He spent over a decade researching and communicating energy and environmental policy with the Canadian and American energy industry.
An engineer by training, Joseph G. Lehman joined the Mackinac Center in 1995 and was named president in 2008. During his tenure Michigan has seen numerous free-market policy advances in education, labor and state fiscal affairs. Frequently published in national and state media, Lehman also has trained more than 600 public policy executives internationally on strategic leadership and communications. He and his wife are founders of Midland County Habitat for Humanity.