by Sean Morash
Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently requested that his department study the effects of clean energy on baseload generation. The memo asserts that “baseload power is necessary to a well-functioning electric grid” and directs for the execution of “a study to explore critical issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electric grid…” The request is likely tied to the fact that several states are seeking to subsidize baseload generation, as they struggle to compete with cheaper renewable energy. Throughout the document, Perry seemingly constructs a paradigm that pits one technology (coal) against another (“clean energy” in the form of solar or wind generation). The fundamental evaluation methodology is predicated on an understanding of “baseload generation” that is not defined in the memo, nor consistently agreed upon today. We at EnerNex believe that in order to have a useful discussion of the issues concerning the Energy Secretary, a consensus is necessary on what “baseload” really means in today’s electrical industry.