Future of Our Power Supply
I am making an urgent call to action regarding the proposed climate action plan which will come before the Lincoln City Council with a public hearing scheduled for Monday, March 15. There is no doubt that the preservation of natural resources should be a priority. Nebraska prides itself on its beautiful grasslands, forests, sandhills, and thousands of miles of rivers. Many of our small businesses rely on a protected environment to provide goods and services to their customers. When considering our preservation of resources, like a good investment portfolio, diversification is the key.
While protecting natural resources is important, the affordability of energy must be our top priority for our community and business owners. Last year, the Lincoln Electric System (LES) Administrative Board adopted a 100% net decarbonization goal by 2040. LES’s own estimates for a 2030 timeline indicated a very real possibility that service rates will double over the next decade and the costs to businesses would increase on average $1 million every year for the next ten years. If a similarly aggressive goal outlined in the Climate Action Plan is adopted, businesses will be negatively impacted by these skyrocketing prices. The fiscal impact to homeowners, businesses, and the community should be thoroughly understood before adopting this aggressive plan.
Aside from the detrimental fiscal impact, this plan will weaken our electric grid’s reliability. Recently, we saw record-low temperatures that drove energy demands to new peak levels. This led to unprecedented rolling blackouts across much of Lincoln and the Midwest as the Southwest Power Pool struggled to keep up with demand. At 8 a.m. on February 16, when the outside temperature reached -26ºF and families and businesses were depending on delivery of power to heat their homes and run their businesses, nearly 14,000 customers were without power. Wholesale market prices for energy reached $4,200/MWh, more than 220 times the normal average.
During this time, we experienced a lack of energy supply due to a combination of factors including an overreliance on renewable energy sources. While regulatory bodies continue to mandate and over-incentivize wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy production, our most reliable sources of energy are falling by the wayside. Our energy grid faced a perfect storm of calm winds, overcast skies, snow cover, and a supply shortage of natural gas. Because of this, when 14,000 customers were left in the dark, solar panels were only producing at 10% of their potential capacity, wind turbines at 21%, and natural gas at 30%. We therefore turned to more reliable sources of energy such as diesel that was operating at 53% of its potential capacity, coal at 72%, and nuclear at 98%. We must continue to have all possible resources available with a diversified portfolio of energy sources.
Imagine a future where the City divested entirely from fossil fuels, mandated all-electric appliances in every home, and runs on completely renewable energy sources. Now imagine we experience a cold snap during one weekend in February much like what we’ve just experienced. Calm winds, overcast skies, and frozen bodies of water have suffocated our energy production; coal power plants have been declared obsolete, natural gas supply is artificially limited, and our remaining nuclear plants have been decommissioned. Our community cannot afford to take this risk. This is a threat to the economic security of Lincoln.
We need business leaders to come forward and make their voices be heard. To gather more information on the climate action plan coming before the City Council, please visit www.lincoln.ne.gov/files/sharedassets/public/projects-programs-amp-initiatives/resilient-lincoln/documents/climate-action-plan.pdf.