Much of the country was struck by harsh winter weather last week. Kentucky was particularly affected, with snow blanketing much of the state and temperatures dropping far below historical averages. These conditions – much like what transpired during Winter Storm Elliott – pose a grave danger to public health and safety, especially if they result in blackouts that leave families and businesses without heat or light.

Thankfully, the worst was prevented by the resilience of traditional energy resources, which kept the grid functioning by generating sufficient electricity to meet soaring demand. In the PJM region, which serves many Kentucky residents, coal and natural gas have consistently generated the majority of electricity throughout the week. Nuclear has also contributed significantly. Meanwhile, at several points last week, wind was supplying just 5% of total generation in the MISO region, which serves much of the rest of Kentucky, and solar was producing nothing. These figures tell a familiar story – while renewables are volatile, baseload power plants have kept the lights on. The dependability of Kentucky’s coal and natural gas plants in the face of bitter cold and heavy snow is further proof that these energy sources remain indispensable to our state’s prosperity and wellbeing. Despite this, the federal government continues to play politics with energy policy by weaponizing onerous and ill-founded regulations to force them into premature retirement.

This can’t continue. Based on the current rate of retirements and the EPA’s proposed regulations, the same conditions that Kentucky weathered this week might have been much worse five years into the future. Given this, it’s critical that we stop retiring time-tested energy resources and existing power plants in favor of intermittent renewables that don’t provide the same reliability attributes.

Preserving grid reliability doesn’t mean discounting the merits of a diverse energy mix. An all-of-the-above energy policy that allows the free market to make the most of all energy sources, including renewables, is an admirable and worthwhile goal. However, crippling our energy security and independence by shutting down the backbone of America’s power grid is a disaster waiting to happen that neither Kentucky nor the nation can afford. This week was a reminder of just how important baseload power plants are and what is at stake if they disappear.

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