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Matheson: A Reliable Network Needs More Always-On Generation

“You need to have resources that are always available and dispatchable to maintain the network,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “It can’t be 100% intermediate resources and labor.” (Photo by: Andy Barth)

The transition to a low-carbon electricity grid will jeopardize electricity reliability unless there is enough generation and infrastructure always available to meet the country’s growing electricity demand, the President said. NRECA CEO Jim Matheson at a September 30 press briefing hosted by United States Energy. Association.

“We have been very strong as a national association that the idea of ​​the electricity sector achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2035 cannot happen without seriously compromising the reliability of the electricity grid,” Matheson said during the USEA Virtual Event.

With demand for electricity soaring, always-on generation – nuclear, natural gas or coal – must remain a critical part of the generation portfolio to ensure a reliable and affordable electricity supply. Intermittent renewables alone won’t be enough to do the job, he said.

“We’re concerned about reliability,” Matheson said. “You need to have resources that are always available and dispatchable to maintain the network. It cannot be 100% intermediate resources and work.

Also, it will take much longer to build transmission and other infrastructure to tap low-emission energy resources, he said.

“The location of a transmission line is really difficult,” he said.

Matheson praised Congress for its recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act with direct incentives and the infrastructure law 2021 with financing provisions that will provide “significant opportunities for electricity cooperatives to access funds to make real investments in their systems”.

“These pieces of legislation have helped level the playing field and given more opportunities to cooperatives,” he said.

David Naylor, President of Rayburn Country Electric Cooperativea Rockwall, Texas-based generation and transmission wholesaler also attended the USEA event and noted that “our members drive a lot of what we do.”

“As we contemplate the transition, you know it’s not just about the merchandise itself,” Naylor said. “What is this value proposition for this member, the consumer at the end of the line? Because that is ultimately what drives us. We have to be able to show that we bring value to these people.

Cathy Cash is a writer for NRECA.