The U.S. has No Energy Policy in 2022. Only a Decarbonization Policy without a Rational plan to achieve a low carbon Energy supply. Keep in mind, Energy is needed for not only electricity generation, but also for Transportation, Industrial production, Commercial and Residential uses. Currently, about 87% of our total primary energy is provided by conventional sources of natural gas, coal, nuclear and hydroelectric. Wind and Solar provided less than 5% of total Primary Energy in 2021. Yet, there are many influential groups calling for policies to “Electrify Everything”.
Let me digress and quote a highly respected Utility Engineering Manager from the 1970’s. That man is Mendall H. Long, a member of the Greatest Generation who after graduation from NCSU served as the youngest Chief Engineer of the Standard Oil Fleet during WWII. After the war he joined Carolina Power & Light and rapidly rose through the ranks from shift supervisor to Manager of Fossil Plant Engineering. Me and many others loved that man for both his engineering skills as well as his wisdom and leadership. In the 1970’s CP&L and Duke Power’s electricity growth was almost 10% per year with growing industrial load and wide use of residential heat pumps. At CP&L which then was a 4,000 MW regional utility, the Asheville Unit #2 (200MW) was built about 1970, then the 700 MW H.B. Robinson nuclear plant about 1971, 420 MW Sutton #3 in 1972 and the 720 MW Roxboro #3 started up in June 1973. Except for Robinson, all were coal plants and needed to satisfy load growth. That was when Utilities planned for electric load growth and added generation based on projections of future demand. The four new units built between 1970 and 1973 above totaled 2,040 MW and the total peak generation was in the range of 4,000 MW. The quote from Mr. Long that I remember as he motioned toward some Internal Combustion gas turbines that were built for peaking and backup of the large new coal plants, “Those are Monuments to Poor Planning”. So, I wonder what the “Monuments to Poor Planning will be in 2024? I worked with (both as a Riley startup engineer and as an engineer employed by CP&L) and for CP&L during those years and the information provided is from my personal experiences and memory.
Lets take a look at what a Rational plan would be to add generation in anticipation of future Demand. In fact, lets take my adopted state of South Carolina as an example.
South Carolina Electricity Generation Planning 2006-2016
Before I retired from full time employment, I participated in consulting, testing, trouble shooting and design of performance improvements for coal power plants at South Carolina Electric and Gas and Santee-Cooper power plants (as well as many other utilities). During this process I got to know and respect a number of senior managers at these Utilities. One such senior manager was Mr. Bill McCall of Santee-Cooper. I remember one technical conference where Mr. McCall gave a presentation on Santee-Cooper’s load growth from both electricity intensive Industrial plants within the Santee-Cooper service territory, such as Alumax (now Century Aluminum) and Nucor Steel and the rapid growth of housing (like NC in the 1970’s) and commercial enterprises along the coast north and south of Myrtle Beach. Mr. McCall went on to describe how electric demand was growing at unprecedented levels, and it was. He went on to show the need for building the two additional coal units at the Cross Generating Station, increasing the generation capacity of that plant to 2,340 MW and the need for the proposed 600 MW Pee Dee Generation Plant. Then there was the joint effort/ownership of SCE&G and Santee-Cooper to build the two additional nuclear units at Summer Station in Jenkinsville, SC. The significant dates of new units built or planned to be built during this period is shown below:
1984 Santee-Cooper Electric Generation Peak exceeds 5,000 MW
1984 Cross Generating Station Is Commissioned
1995 Cross Unit #2 Becomes Commercial
1999 800 MW Rainy Gas Turbine Combined Cycle Plant Approved for Construction
2004 Two 600 MW Cross Units #3&4 Construction in progress
2004 600 MW Pee Dee Energy Campus is approved by Santee-Cooper Board for construction
2007 New Peak Demand record set at 5,563 MW’s, Cross Unit #3 begins commercial operation
2008 SCE&G and Santee-Cooper File appliction for Summer Unit #3 Nuclear Unit (1,100 MW)
2011 NRC approves second Summer Nuclear Unit for a total expansion of 2,200 MW of new nuclear power generation capacity. This is shared capacity of SCE&G and Santee-Cooper with Santee-Cooper having a 45% ownership share. Now, the foregoing new plants to be added from 2007 on would seem to be a good plan for growth. It was until two major problems: 1. The 600 MW Pee Dee Energy Campus was cancelled in 2009 due largely to outside interference and agitation from environmental extremist groups and 2. Mismanagement of construction of the two nuclear units at Summer by SCE&G. A Rational Plan for new generation capacity of Dispatchable coal and nuclear generation capacity was scrapped. Now, there are continuing and increasing public and government pressures to install only wind and solar and to shut down existing coal plants as soon as possible. The 1,045 MW Winyah coal plant is planned to be shut down in 2028. But, at this writing there is no definite plan (that I am aware) to replace the 1,045 MW of coal generation. The illustration below is from Santee-Cooper’s IRP presentation.
When I first became associated with Santee-Cooper in 1971 as one of the test engineers performing acceptance testing at the Jefferies Coal plant in Moncks Corner, the system peak load was about 3,000 MW. Since then as can be seen from the projections to the future, Santee-Cooper’s service territory will grow to over 6,000 MW by 2037. This is natural growth without the MSM and government screaming, “Electrify Everything”!
Who is Accountable for Poor Planning?
In my opinion, there are multiple reasons and organizations that have brought our country to the absense of proper generation planning. Nine major contributors to “Poor Planning” are the U.N.-IPCC, the World Economic Forum, the Main Stream Media, Public Indoctrination by Politicians that follow the “Green Religion”, the U.S. Democrat Party, Environmental Extremist Organizations, Billionaire activists such as Bezos and Bloomberg and Public School Indoctrination of Green Policies and “Woke” corporations. I presented my views to the ENERUM Energy Forum in Columbus in August of this year. One slide I used is copied below:
On a national level, the slide covers many of the major players that have thrown a monkey wrench into generation planning, as it was once done by responsible regional utilities. Now, with the emphasis on interconnecting all Utilities with Regional Transmission Operators and a Federal War on Carbon, there is No Rational Energy Policy. Only a policy to attempt to kill coal and gas plants. It is un-American. My respected and Patriotic engineering manager friend Mr. Long would be screaming from his grave if he knew the madness that has taken over in the U.S. Oh, how I miss gutsy and knowledgeable managers like Mendall Long!
Getting back to S.C. and the lack of planning here. Here are a couple newspaper reports regarding the cancellation of the Pee Dee Coal plant and the Summer units 2&3 nuclear plant.
- America did better generation planning in the 1970’s than we do now. In spite of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, America’s electricity remained reliable, was affordable and it fueled great economic growth 1970-2020.
- There is no energy policy today. The “Electrify Everything” policy promoted by many here and in Eurpope is based on the myth that wind and solar can provide sufficient power. It can’t. Many promoting this myth should know better!
- The Regional Transmission Operators such as MISO, PJM and ERCOT combined with economic incentives for wind and solar have made the Grid fragile and less Resilient.
- The Environmental Extremists have made policies to shut down vital coal plants that will contribute to unreliable electricity generation.
- The EPA and government is run by environmental extremists that escape accountability for the actions and harm they are causing.
- Europe is an example our elected officials could look too to observe the costs and harm that extreme green policies can cause.
- Meanwhile, China is growing their economy and is on track to become the world’s largest economy passing the U.S.A. and doing so with massive amounts of coal power.
In closing let me ask you, what do you think the Monuments to Poor Planning will be in 2024?
Respectfully and yours truly,
Dick Storm, November 10, 2022