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Possible rewrite: Potential Economic Disruption Looms Due to Reliability Concerns, Says Mid-Carolina CEO


Sep 13, 2023

Bob Poling, CEO of Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative in Lexington, South Carolina, recently testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security about the threats to reliable power. He warned that if these challenges are not addressed, Americans will face dangerous and economically devastating power outages. Poling emphasized the importance of overcoming these challenges to keep up with the increasing demand for electricity and to prevent regular power outages.

Poling highlighted the impact of unusually cold weather in South Carolina last December, which resulted in record-high electricity demand, straining the power grid and leaving hundreds of thousands of consumers without heat and facing rolling blackouts. While Mid-Carolina Power did not experience rolling blackouts during that time, Poling expressed concern that they may not be as fortunate in the future.

Poling outlined the five biggest challenges to reliability, including the chaotic retirement of fossil fuel power plants, the expensive and time-consuming permitting process, supply chain delays, and the issue of natural gas availability. He noted that South Carolina has been leading the way in electrifying the U.S. economy, particularly through economic development projects related to electric vehicle production. However, to support these projects and meet surging electricity demand, the state needs more power and more options to produce it.

In addition to building new power plants, Poling emphasized the need to maintain existing power generation facilities until suitable replacements and reserves are available. He also highlighted the need to streamline the federal approval process for infrastructure projects and mentioned the efforts of Central Electric Cooperative to update overburdened infrastructure in the area surrounding the town of McClellanville, which have been hampered by a complex federal regulatory process and a lack of necessary coordination.

Poling also discussed the delays in international supply chains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which have hindered much-needed improvements at electric cooperatives. He mentioned Mid-Carolina Electric’s ongoing struggle to build a single substation due to delays in the delivery of essential equipment.

Furthermore, Poling expressed concerns about the availability of natural gas for power plants, especially during extreme weather events. Over a quarter of South Carolina’s electricity comes from natural gas, and ensuring its availability is crucial to prevent people from enduring scorching heat without air conditioning or frigid nights without heat.

Overall, Poling urged action to address these reliability challenges and ensure the availability and stability of power for all Americans.

By Editor

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