It’s going to get cold. Are we ready for it? I’m not talking about this year, but rather what will happen after a few years of Biden rule. Idahoans heat with natural gas and electricity; let’s consider what is likely to happen to both.

Steve Piet

Steve Piet

It’s going to get cold as natural gas supplies drop. Natural gas heats homes and businesses. It is the largest single source of U.S. electricity. Idaho imports all the natural gas, petroleum and coal we use. Biden will use executive power to prevent any new natural gas pipelines, drilling or facilities. Availability will drop.

It’s going to get cold as the supply of coal-generated electricity drops faster than anticipated in the U.S. western electric grid. Fortunately, no one is building new coal plants. Biden will undo Trump regulations that rationalized decisions on upgrading coal facilities for lower air pollution. Companies could upgrade some things without upgrading everything yet still creating a net decrease in coal air pollution. Biden is changing back to Obama regulations that force more coal plants to upgrade completely or shutdown. How many western coal plants will shut down sooner than anticipated?

It’s going to get cold as Biden uses executive orders and regulations to attempt to fulfill his promise for carbon-free electricity by 2035. (Three-fifths of U.S. electricity comes from burning carbon; so, that’s a massive change.) The electricity Idaho generates is already carbon-free, but the state of Idaho imports roughly one-third of our electricity — much from coal burned in Utah and Wyoming. Idaho Falls Power must buy most of its electricity. Everything we buy is at the mercy of others, interstate markets and federal regulations.

Electricity also comes from the dams that are blocking salmon migration. Last year only 27 salmon made it to central Idaho. A Biden federal bureaucracy is more likely to remove the dams, reducing electricity in Washington state, another source of Idaho electricity.

Thus Biden’s election means less natural gas for heat and less electricity from natural gas, coal and hydropower.

Meanwhile, more people are fleeing high tax states and ungovernable cities to come here, increasing our demand for natural gas and electricity. Recently the Post Register reported a prediction of doubling of the local population in 10 years.

As people anticipate natural gas supply issues, they will preferentially heat with electricity, as there are multiple ways to generate electricity. This increases electricity demand.

Most (95%) of the energy used in U.S. industry comes from burning carbon. Virtually all (99.96%) of the energy used in U.S. transportation comes from burning carbon. De-carbonization of industry and transportation requires electrification, further increasing electricity demand.

More people and more electrification of heat, industry and transportation mean a rapid increase in electricity demand — while Biden is decreasing electricity supply.

Most non-carbon electricity in the nation comes from nuclear. Nuclear is the only reliable non-carbon electricity source. Our mayor and City Council recently cut in half our share of the planned local nuclear power plant, reducing the chance for us to better control our electricity destiny. Makes no sense.

It’s going to get cold. Who will help Idahoans on cold winter nights when there isn’t solar power, the wind is low, hydropower is low as we store water for irrigation, and coal and natural gas electricity are restricted? Biden regulators won’t prioritize Republican Idaho. Electricity exporting states won’t prioritize Idaho.

It’s going to get cold. What’s our plan? We should be increasing our generation of electricity from every possible non-carbon electricity option, especially reliable nuclear.

Steve Piet is a nuclear engineer who worked at Idaho National Laboratory for 31 years.