May 1 (UPI) -- Industry trade groups aligned with low-carbon power sources in the United States defended their respective sectors against concerns about grid reliability.
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry in April called for an investigation into the resilience and reliability of the nation's energy grid. With renewable resources like solar and wind deemed variable because of the nature of their power origins, the secretary said the issue was a critical one given regulatory burdens enacted by previous administrations that could impact legacy resources like coal-fired power generation.
"Such policies have destroyed jobs and economic growth, and they threaten to undercut the performance of the grid well into the future," the secretary's mid-April order read.
Coal accounted for about 30 percent of all of the electricity generated in the country last year. Coal-fired power peaked in 2007 at 2 billion kilowatthours and reached 1.2 billion kilowatthours last year.
Three trade groups -- the Advanced Energy Economy, the American Wind Energy Association, and the Solar Energy Industries Association -- said in a letter to the secretary that any steps meant to ensure grid reliability were welcome, but stressed it wasn't the growth in low-carbon options that was responsible for the decline in coal-fired power.
"These energy resources [renewables] have already been integrated smoothly into the electric power system in large and increasing amounts, as demonstrated in countless studies and, more importantly, in real-world experience across the United States," they said in their letter to Perry.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed a measure in May to review former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, lift a short-term ban on leasing federal land for coal production, lift limits on coal production and return energy production authority to the states.
The Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of Obama's climate change agenda, set a goal of cutting carbon emissions by 32 percent of their 2005 baseline by 2030. Perry said the order by Trump was the first step of a plan to make the United States not just energy independent, but "energy dominant."
Energy-related CO2 emissions last year were down 1.7 percent from 2015 levels, consistent with a decade-long trend. The trend comes as power comes less from coal and more from cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable power sources.