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  • Germany to (kind of) Keep Two Out of Three Nuclear Plants // The EU Ponders Russian Gas Price Cap // California Warns of Blackouts

Germany to (kind of) Keep Two Out of Three Nuclear Plants // The EU Ponders Russian Gas Price Cap // California Warns of Blackouts

Germany to (kind of) Keep Two Out of Three Nuclear Plants

Germany plans on keeping two out of its three remaining nuclear plants until spring for emergency uses according to Economic Minister Habeck. 

The news comes as the CEO of Uniper, one of Germany's largest utilities, says it "might eventually be forced to consider gas rationing following Russia's latest decision to halt gas flows via Nord Stream."

Meanwhile, Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke of the Green Party, says that the plants will need to be shut down this winter and serviced to make sure they're safe, leaving them idle for months. 

In an open letter, Germany's governmental safety experts have told Lemke that the plants do not need service and are in perfect condition to keep running. The letter's signatories, all alumni of the Reactor Safety Commission (RSK), drove home the urgency of keeping the reactors online while demonstrating the pristine condition of the plants. 

Habeck's decision circumvents Lemke's wishes but uses muddle logic. The plants are to stay on in case of an emergency--what's not an emergency about right now?

The EU Ponders Russian Gas Price Cap

The European Union is struggling to balance its solidarity with Ukraine and response to soaring energy prices. The bloc's energy ministers plan to meet at the end of the week to consider what can be done. 

Reuters reports that a draft document, "said the ministers will consider options including a price cap on imported gas, a price cap on gas used to produce electricity, or temporarily removing gas power plants from the current EU system of setting electricity prices."

They're also contemplating expanding government powers to force businesses to stockpile supplies and kill contracts in order to stabilize supply chain issues. Draft legislation would give the European Commission "considerable leeway to declare an emergency, triggering a series of interventionist measures aimed at preventing product shortages in critical industries," according to the Financial Times

While the EU mulls over its options, the G7 has gone ahead and approved a price cap on Russian oil in hopes of depleting Mowcow's ability to fund its war effort. "Under the envisioned mechanism, the provision of services which enable maritime transportation of Russian crude oil and petroleum products would only be allowed if the products are purchased 'at or below a price determined by the broad coalition of countries adhering to and implementing the price cap,'" reports the Japan Times. 

Fossil fuels are the master resource. To make that clear, take a look at this graph: 

Any policy that seeks to greatly throttle the supply of fossil fuels, especially in a rapidly accelerating energy crisis, will do more harm than good. 

California Warns of Blackouts

Last week, California's grid operator, CAISO, issued a flex alert asking Californians to curb their electricity use between 4pm and 9pm and to avoid charging their electric vehicles. CAISO worried that an incoming heatwave would push the grid to the brink. That heatwave looks to last longer and peak higher than anticipated. CAISO now warns that blackouts may occur. 

“[T]his multi-day event is going to get much more intense,” ISO President and CEO Elliot Mainzer said over the weekend. “We are facing a load forecast of 48,817 megawatts and energy deficits between 2,000 and 4,000 megawatts for Monday, resulting in the highest likelihood of rotating outages we have seen so far this summer."

In Los Angeles, temperatures hit as high as 105 degrees over the weekend. In some regions of the state, the heatwave could push mercury up towards 115. 

“Because of the increasingly extreme conditions, we will need significant additional consumer demand reductions during the hours of 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday and access to all the emergency tools that the state and utilities have established for an extreme event like this one," Mainzer added.

The flex alert has been extended to Friday of this week. 

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Conversation Starters

  1. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, expressed the DOE's willingness to help New England make it through the winter. ISO-NE, New England's grid operator, has tried with mixed success to reckon a winter reliability program that necessitates keeping fuel on site. However, such a move violates the logic of the electricity spot market, as it gives preferences to a certain suite of thermal generators. But New England's inability to acquire cheap natural gas on the global market has seemingly changed the political calculus. Granholm now intimates that the government is willing to bend the rules to keep the lights on.

  2. America's Power, a coal industry advocate, warns that the North American Reliability Corporation has wildly underestimated the number of coming coal retirements. The group says that NERC has underestimated the count of retirements by 68 GW, or four times more than NERC's 2018 estimate. You can read American Power's letter here.

  3. After denying that she was stepping down from her post as the White House's Climate Advisor back in April, Gina McCarthy announced her resignation. McCarthy headed up the Natural Resources Defense Council, served as the head of the EPA under Obama, and spent her time in the Biden administration advocating for social media platforms to censor critics of renewable energy. She officially resigns on September 16th.

Crom's Blessing