One of the many things we can be grateful for in this current crisis is the reliability of the U.S. power grid — and our ability to still afford it. Unfortunately, one of those reliable energy producers has been shut down, thanks to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Nuclear plant engineers, coal miners, natural gas producers, utility workers, and the like might not be making appearances in the viral Instagram posts that express thanks to essential employees, but these workers are some of the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Imagine, for example, how much worse this pandemic would be without reliable electricity — no heat or AC, no computer for work, no TV for the kids, and no appliances to cook. Keeping people at home would’ve been nearly impossible, and that’s not to mention all the families relying on electricity to keep their loved ones alive in intensive care.
Reliable electricity is something we take for granted, particularly in a pandemic. But with the Green New Deal lurking in the background, the time has passed to wise up.
If the coronavirus pandemic hit us 10 years from now and the Green New Deal were written into law, states would be mandated to phase out coal, nuclear energy, and natural gas to generate 100 percent of power demand from zero-emission energy sources, which to Democrats means renewables only. Ironically, nuclear is already the largest source of zero-emission power, but under the Green New Deal, it isn’t allowed.
As a result, homes, businesses, and even hospitals would be reliant on renewable energy sources to keep the lights on. Hospitals relying on solar and wind energy had better hope it’s not cloudy and the wind is blowing.
Renewable Isn’t Reliable
Wind and solar account for just 10 percent of the U.S. electricity grid. To pretend we could increase our reliance on them by two, three, or tenfold overnight, and further, rely on renewable energy sources to get us through an emergency is not just dishonest. It’s dangerous.
Renewable energy sources have made great advancements. But unlike other forms of energy, solar and wind depend on factors out of human control — the weather, region, or time of day. An even bigger challenge for renewable energy sources is their inability to consistently generate enough energy to power big towns or cities. For most renewables, what’s generated must be immediately used, unlike fossil power plants, which can readily be turned on and off based on demand.
Politicians who glaze over this fact are not only denying reality. They are putting lives at risk. Cuomo is among them.
Increasing Risk in a Pandemic
Two weeks ago in New York, the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant that reliably provided a quarter of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County, shut down. Cuomo, according to the Associated Press, had “long sought the shutdown.”
“Closing the plant will reduce the resilience of New York’s electric grid and increase the state’s reliance on natural gas for electricity production,” wrote Robert Bryce in The New York Post, pointing to the risk of gas supplies being “suddenly stopped or reduced due to an accident, terrorism or a cyberattack.”
New York City and the surrounding areas now have a less diverse and less resilient power grid. Not to mention, they have one less source of zero-emission power to use. While it might take the unthinkable to realize what a serious threat this is during an emergency, with COVID-19, we’re witnessing the unthinkable unfold.
Life Under the Green New Deal
Under a Green New Deal, the fate of the Indian Point Energy Center would become the norm. For now, Americans can be grateful we’re not living under the extreme mandates that would come with this plan. But the prospect isn’t far off. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, supports the Green New Deal. (He also supports teaching coal miners how to code.)
Remember: Biden was the so-called moderate of the bunch. Democratic socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the author of the Green New Deal, believe the world is going to end in 11 years if we don’t aggressively curtail climate change. Just May 13, Biden announced the freshman congresswoman from New York would co-chair his climate change task force, suggesting a version of the Green New Deal is all but inevitable under a Biden presidency.
This comes despite the coronavirus wakeup call and a clear reality check from the scientific community that it’s impossible to reach 100 percent renewable energy without radically transforming our economy and making our grid dangerously vulnerable.
On the bright side, there are plenty of policy solutions that will enable us to lower greenhouse gas emissions and protect our environment, while maintaining the reliability and diversity of the power grid. Like a hospital’s different departments, the energy system works best as a team.
Before any more far-left politicians rush to shut down reliable energy sources, allow coronavirus to remind us: Energy is essential to keeping our loved ones alive and getting us through a crisis. As exciting as renewable sources are, the United States should always have a backup plan. Putting those backup plans out of business is a grave mistake.
Kelsey Bolar is a contributor to The Federalist and a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum. She is also the Thursday editor of BRIGHT, a weekly newsletter for women, and the 2017 Tony Blankley Chair at The Steamboat Institute. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, daughter, and Australian Shepherd, Utah.