Regards from BSA Camp Daniel Boone in North Carolina. Our Scout Troop was here for a week chilling while the eastern U.S. was experiencing the “heat dome,” which most of us used to refer to as summer prior to the media hype associated with
climate change.

Back in the day, when the U.S. mined and burned a billion tons of coal, which wasn’t that long ago, the industry would debate whether the additional, seasonal burn rate for electric utilities really mattered. Do you remember those days? Industrial demand from manufacturing, which is linked to economic activity, was so important in those frothy days for coal that demand for air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter was considered irrelevant. Times have changed and the thermal coal business is now that starving man hoping for a cracker.

One of the people I follow on LinkedIn is Jacob Williams, CEO and general manager at Florida Municipal Power Agency. He’s not necessarily a coal advocate. He is a utility executive that is constantly projecting common sense in a social media sea of misguided green nonsense.

On the third day of the heat dome he posted: “80% of the eastern U.S. generation at 5:00 pm EDT is natural gas/coal/nuclear with solar and wind increased to providing 11%, up from 7% yesterday. Wind picked up some in the Plains, but at 37 gigawatts (GW) combined generation, it’s well off the more than 80 GW of wind and solar capacity on the ground in MISO, SPP, PJM, NYISO and ISONE. [This] pales in comparison to the 280 GW of natural gas/coal/nuclear generation [providing power] right now. Yes on windy, sunny, low-load Spring days, wind and solar could be as high as 40% – 50% of the energy in SPP and ERCOT, but much of the East has little to no wind so those levels are completely unreasonable for the highly populated eastern U.S.

“It has taken the U.S. seven to eight years to get to this point in the ‘energy transition,’ so it [would be] completely unreasonable to reach 50% energy from intermittent wind/solar in the next 10 years, let alone the cost increases all customers and taxpayers would have to pay to achieve that goal,” he continued.

The U.S. may never burn a billion tons of coal per year again, but industrial demand is on the rise. Ironically, it’s partially driven by the green energy transition and technology. When needed most, solar and wind seem to quietly retrace their steps back to intermittent status, while the seasonal power burn highlights them as an Achilles heel for the grid, and a green burden for taxpayers and ratepayers.