A few weeks ago, President Biden gave a speech about battling climate change in Somerset, Mass at the site of the Brayton Point power plant. “As president, I have a responsibility to act with urgency and resolve when our nation faces clear and present danger” declaring climate change to be “literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger … (to) the health of our citizens and our communities.”
Part of the Biden administration’s plan is to “Distribute or loan efficient (electric powered) air conditioning units, especially targeting vulnerable households that will most likely be homebound and most impacted by extreme temperatures, such as older adults, young children, or individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, prioritize households with individuals who rely on medical devices or need to refrigerate certain medications, such as for diabetes, and need uninterrupted electricity supply.” With the expected increase in temperatures with climate change, this might seem to make sense.
Aside from the usual reasons that small government enthusiasts might have to protest the feds giving away freebies, there is a very real possibility that these AC units could do little to keep the most vulnerable cool. And that’s not necessarily because of climate change, but because New England’s electric grid could soon have to use California’s method of rolling blackouts to maintain a semblance of civilization.
In 2013, Brayton Point invested $500 million in new cooling towers to protect wildlife. And then in 2017, Brayton Point closed due to political protests and pressure from the EPA. The new wind turbines are expected to provide one-third of the power of the previous coal powered plant.
One-third of the previous energy? Something will have to give soon if we start to replace fossil fuel powered generators with “green” generators on a larger scale. And that could inadvertently be bad news for Vermonters, because Massachusetts and Vermont are part of the ISO-New England electric grid. No amount of electric powered AC units can stave off the very real threat of summer heat without reliable electricity.