From EnergyWire:

A statement about “baseload power” by Energy Secretary Rick Perry in April frames a debate about the future of the U.S. electricity grid under President Trump.

Perry asked his staff to send him a report by the end of this week on the health of the nation’s high-voltage electricity grid. His memo targeted wind and solar power as suspected threats to grid reliability.

Boosted by “extremist political agendas,” according to Perry, renewable energy undermines baseload power that includes large coal and gas-fired generators, dams, and nuclear reactors. “Baseload power is necessary to a well-functioning electric grid,” Perry declared in the memo.

But studies of power grid reliability suggest the greatest risks aren’t from the gradual loss of coal and nuclear generation, or from too many solar panels. Rather, grid operators and electricity companies struggle with inconsistent federal and state policies developed in a deeply divided political environment. Today, that is what’s buffeting a rapidly evolving 21st-century grid that, in reality, relies on natural gas instead of coal and is integrating increasing volumes of wind, solar and clean technology.

Will Perry’s short-order grid report harness agency policy to support Trump’s goal of reviving a coal-based electric grid? Or will it address trends — that appear irreversible to many in the industry — supporting a multidimensional grid?

“There is a distinction between the political connotation of baseload and the industry’s definitions,” said Devin Hartman, senior fellow at the R Street Institute.

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