US President, Joseph R. Biden Jr, has declared a state of emergency with respect to threats to the availability of sufficient electricity generation capacity to meet expected customer demand.
In a statement released by the White House and seen by Investogist, the Federal Government said that multiple factors are threatening the ability of the United States to provide sufficient electricity generation to serve expected customer demand.
The statement went further to say that the factors included disruptions to energy markets caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change.
The statement cited some climate related examples, such as drought conditions coupled with heatwaves in some parts of the country, simultaneously causing projected electricity supply shortfals and record electricity demand.
As a result, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation have both warned of near-term electricity reliability concerns in their recent summer reliability assessments.
The government noted the importance of electricity and the consequences of interruptions in it’s opening statement;
Electricity is an essential part of modern life that powers homes, business, and industry. It is critical to the function of major sectors of the economy, including hospitals, schools, public transportation systems, and the defense industrial base. Even isolated interruptions in electric service can have catastrophic health and economic consequences. A robust and reliable electric power system is therefore not only a basic human necessity, but is also critical to national security and national defense.
It therefore urged grid operators to engage in advance planning to build new capacity now to serve expected customer demand, in order to ensure electric resource adequacy.
The government highlighted the unavailability of solar cells and modules as factors that jeopardizes those planned additions, which in turn threatens the availability of sufficient electricity generation capacity to serve expected customer demand. It stated that electricity produced through solar energy is also critical to reducing our dependence on electricity produced by the burning of fossil fuels, which drives climate change. The Department of Defense has recognized climate change as a threat to our national security.
In recent years, the vast majority of solar modules installed in the United States were imported, with those from Southeast Asia making up approximately three-quarters of imported modules in 2020.
The statement says that the Federal Government is working with the private sector to promote the expansion of domestic solar manufacturing capacity, including our capacity to manufacture modules and other inputs in the solar supply chain, but building that capacity will take time. Immediate action was thus needed to ensure in the interim that the United States has access to a sufficient supply of solar modules to assist in meeting our electricity generation needs.
The emergency authority signed by the President therefore asked the Secretary of Commerce to;
Consider taking appropriate action under section 1318(a) of title 19, United States Code, to permit, until 24 months after the date of this proclamation or until the emergency declared herein has terminated, whichever occurs first, under such regulations and under such conditions as the Secretary may prescribe, the importation, free of the collection of duties and estimated duties, if applicable, under sections 1671, 1673, 1675, and 1677j of title 19, United States Code, of certain solar cells and modules, exported from the Kingdom of Cambodia, Malaysia, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and that are not already subject to an antidumping or countervailing duty order as of the date of this proclamation, and to temporarily extend during the course of the emergency the time therein prescribed for the performance of any act related to such imports.
Increased reliance on renewable energy sources has been blamed for disruptions to power service in such states as California and Texas. Solar and wind power are intermittent, so periods of high demand aren’t always matched by supplies. For instance, wind turbines froze up during an historic winter freeze last year in Texas, contributing to blackouts that caused 246 deaths and at least $195 billion in damage.
The president has blamed Russia for record US fuel prices and a surge in inflation to a 40-year high. He’s also attributed a looming global food crisis to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur