2022 will prove to be a year when the world as we knew it shifted and changed. Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine was in part responsible for our changed views. As Putin has turned the war in Ukraine to mass civilian attacks using missiles and drones armed with high explosives targeting cities and the power infrastructure it appears he has pulled out the old playbook: to terrorize the population so they would lose the will to fight and surrender. Instead, this war has strengthened our NATO alliance. It has become clear that our NATO partners are our friends. China, Russia and Iran are not.
Ukraine’s air defenses are weak, and Ukraine cannot
retaliate in kind. Putin thinks strategic air attacks are his winning card. Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in the United States this month with the
goal to improve Ukraine’s air defenses. The United States needs to stop
worrying about provoking Putin and worry about helping Ukraine stop him.
We have also learned over and over that China is not our
friend and is eying expansion through invasion and proving they are the rightful
first among nations. We must rebuild our
waning military and not allow it to suffer the same decay as Russia’s. Stand with
our friends, arming and training them ahead of invasion is a good plan, too. The
surveillance state and thought police are bad. We need to hear all voices or be
The war in Ukraine has also changed how we look at power, dependence
on other nations, infrastructure and power generation portfolio. Though the
United States, the European Union and others have imposed economic sanctions on
Russia and have announced plans to wean themselves off that country’s fossil
fuels; Russia still supplies 40% of the natural gas for the European Union.
As energy prices soared worldwide the United States went begging to other
nations to produce more oil and gas. The only nation we did not encourage to
produce more oil and gas was our own.
As Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan tweeted “This is national
security suicide. shuts down energy production in America—particularly in
Alaska—then goes on bended knee to dictators in countries like Iran, Saudi
Arabia & Venezuela, begging them to produce more energy.”
Our leaders discussed windfall profits tax on energy
companies and drew down 180 million barrels of our strategic oil reserve. We need to look at our own energy portfolio
and power use. Sustainability and reliability are as important as decarbonizing
the electric generation in the United States. Extreme temperatures and
prolonged severe weather conditions are increasingly impacting our power
Extreme weather impacts increases electricity demand and
forcing generation and other resources off-line. At the same time preference is
given to the use of natural gas for heating rather than electricity generation.
While the PJM has sufficient capacity to meet resource adequacy requirements,
it may not have sufficient availability of resources during extreme and
prolonged weather events as we almost discovered Christmas weekend. Peak
electricity demand is increasing, and forecasting demand and its response to
extreme temperatures and abnormal weather is increasingly uncertain. Specifically,
electrification of residential heating requires the system to serve especially
high demand on especially cold days.
Over Christmas weekend PJM and Dominion Power requested the public in its region to conserve electricity. Suggesting that electricity customers take simple electricity conservation steps such as:
- Setting thermostats lower than usual, if health permits.
- Postponing use of major electric appliances such as stoves, dishwashers and clothes dryers until other times, and
- Turning off non-essential electric lights, equipment and appliances.
The call for conservation was prompted by the inadequacy of
our power supply to meet the demands of region wide frigid weather. We are a nation blessed with a plethora of natural resources. If we
cannot heat and power our homes and ovens on a very frigid Christmas Eve, we
are a declining nation.
Here at home the energy needs of the Commonwealth, its
businesses and its families are changing – and growing. Virginia is already the
data center capital of the world, and the industry is exploding along with the
demand of 24 hours a day 7 days a week power needed to run them. At the same
time Virginia has been on a short timeline to decarbonize the grid and electrify
transportation and heating. When the wind does not blow or the sun does not
shine, or the polar vortex arrives our grid needs to power our lives.
Virginia has been outsourcing reliable baseload capacity to
other states within the PJM, and increasing Virginia’s dependence on
electricity imports from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. As a result, supply
and transmission of energy to Virginia homes and businesses has the potential
to become less reliable than today and could end up with rolling blackouts during
both heat spells and cold snaps if we do not plan better.