Excess Generating Capacity

Excess Generating Capacity

Consumption of electricity has remained constant for at least the past ten years, 2010 through 2020.

From Statista. Data from EIA

This raises two questions:

  1. Why has the US been adding new generation capacity when consumption has remained constant?
  2. Why has consumption remained steady while population has increased?

The second question will be addressed in a later article.

The first question is answered by the next graph.

Chart from EIA

Generating capacity has been added so as to eliminate coal-fired power generation.

  • All of the wind and solar output and one-third of the natural gas output replaced output from coal fired power plants.
  • Wind and solar were added for political reasons, i.e., to eliminate CO2 emissions.

In terms of Megawatts (MW) capacity net additions and closures:

  • Wind additions 122,465 MW
  • Solar PV additions  46,306 MW
  • Coal closures  -101,256 MW

The role of the RTO/ISOs in this process has been unmistakable. The regional transmission organizations and independent system operators (RTO/ISO) have been instrumental in adding wind and solar by using auctions that are rigged in favor of wind and solar.

(Rigged auctions are fully explained in the book The LoomingEnergy Crisis, Are Blackouts Inevitable.)

This is corroborated by comparing the amount of wind capacity added by RTO/ISOs with that added by the rest of the country.

RTO/ISOs added 84% of the installed 122,043 MW of wind capacity in the continental United States through 2020, with only 16% being added in the rest of the country.

Nuclear power has been affected by an excess of generating capacity as a result of rigged auctions and attacks by environmental activists who oppose nuclear power.

Some people claim that nuclear power is uncompetitive, but facts show otherwise.

Since 2000, when RTO/ISOs were established, 8 nuclear power plants have been shut down with 2 more to be shut down by 2025. Of these 10 nuclear power plants, only one was not in an RTO/ISO area, and it was shutdown because of a problem with the concrete containment structure that was too costly to fix.

Exelon, which has been at the center of the controversy over nuclear power, recently spun off its nuclear power plants into a new company, Constellation. All of Constellation’s nuclear power plants are located in RTO/ISO areas. 

Presumably, these nuclear power plants can compete, otherwise Constellation was preordained to fail.

Existing nuclear power plants can compete when nuclear isn’t squeezed out by excess wind capacity and the use of rigged auctions. 

It should also be noted that the coal-fired power plants that have been shut down produced the cheapest electricity, around 3.5 cents per kWh. As a result, the cost of electricity has increased for everyone.

Conclusion

There has been no economic need for adding generating capacity to the electric grid.

Wind and solar have been added unnecessarily for political reasons, i.e., to cut CO2 emissions.

These additions in generating capacity, together with the untimely removal of coal-fired power plants, has resulted in consumers paying higher prices for electricity.

Existing nuclear power plants can provide competitively produced electricity when not having to participate in rigged RTO/ISO auctions where wind can bid zero dollars to supply electricity.

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5 Replies to “Excess Generating Capacity”

  1. According to the US Census Bureau the population of the US increased by 6% (209 MM to 329 MM) between 2010 and the 2020 July estimate yet electric consumption declined. Has efficiency and conservation been the primary drivers in this trend?

    • I’ll address one of the more significant reasons for the lack of growth in electricity consumption in my next article.
      Thanks for asking.

  2. People in Britain are also paying a high price for shutting down coal power plants. Lots of people over there are choosing between eat and heating their houses.