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.