Port: Are you ready for a winter of skyrocketing energy prices?

In places like Europe, renewable energy can't keep the lights on. As enter the winter months, the world is turning to America's prodigious supplies of coal and gas, and we all may pay the price for it.

Jay Johnson and Wyatt Gilbertson get a view of the Devils Lake region from 260 feet above atop a wind turbine near Devils Lake in May 2019. Johnson is the director of the Wind Energy Technician Center at Lake Region State College, and Gilbertson had just completed his wind energy technician certification at the time. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINOT, N.D. — I take no pleasure in saying this, but we told you this would happen.

By "we," I mean those of us who view as foolhardy policies aimed at closing down coal mines and coal-fired power plants through punitive regulations alongside massive subsidies and mandates for intermittent renewables like wind and solar.

By "this," I mean the growing recognition that renewables can't deliver us the reliability and power price stability we've come to expect, not even when buttressed by natural gas.

Who knew that making our power grid dependent on energy sources that rely on the weather (is the wind blowing? is the sun shining?) and the always volatile natural gas markets would be a mistake?

Many observers, including this one. When we made this argument, we were met with derision from those who claim that we're just out to protect Big Coal's bottom line. Coal is dead, they tell us, so we may as well get used to it.


But the chickens are coming home to roost.


  • Port: The Mother of Exiles I'm glad North Dakota will be able to do our part to help with the disaster in Afghanistan. I wish we had been successful in making their home country a place they could stay, but it's gratifying, in lieu of that, to share our home with them.

  • Port: The legal defense of Biden's vaccine mandate isn't as clear cut as you think it is "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind," Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote in a 1927 decision upholding compulsory sterilization laws. "The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes."

  • Port: Gordon Kahl Republicans Our communities, our states, and our nation need conservatives. We need serious-minded, right-of-center leaders who will argue for tapping the brakes. Finding efficiencies. Promoting equality of opportunity and individualism. Recognizing that government isn't the solution for every problem, and is often the problem in the first place. What we're getting, increasingly, in North Dakota and many other places around the country, are Gordon Kahl Republicans.

Here's a fact from the Wall Street Journal's Jinjoo Lee : "The U.S. exported 52.5% more coal in the second quarter than it did a year earlier, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence."

Why are coal exports spiking? Because places like Europe, which has spent decades implementing policies moving away from coal and toward wind and solar and natural gas, are now running out of energy . The wind hasn't been blowing enough to keep the lights on. "The sudden slowdown in wind-driven electricity production off the coast of the U.K. in recent weeks whipsawed through regional energy markets," the Wall Street Journal reported last week . "Gas and coal-fired electricity plants were called in to make up the shortfall from wind."

But there's a gas shortage, too. "The biggest problem area is Europe, where supply is at a record low for this time of year," CNBC reports .

The world is now turning to America and its prodigious coal and natural gas ( we're now exporting about 10% of our natural gas production ).

Except, there's been a political movement here to move our energy policies in Europe's direction.

We are also shutting down coal plants and coal mines and making ourselves more dependent on wind, solar, and natural gas.


Now, as we enter the winter months when reliable energy is crucial to keep the heat and the lights on, we may be about to experience a massive price spike in our utility bills.

Photo: Coal Creek Station
Coal Creek Station power plant near Underwood, N.D. Special to The Forum
Special to The Forum

Not just because of our misguided policies, but because of Europe's as well.

"Natural gas prices have surged more than 35% in the past month, as worries grow there is not enough gas stored up for the winter should temperatures be especially cold in the northern hemisphere," CNBC reports .

Usually, energy markets function like any other. Higher prices spur more supply until equilibrium is found. But in this situation, politics has restrained the ability to ramp up supply.

How easy is it to open up a new coal mine amid the activism and heavy-handed regulatory regime in America today?

How about a new natural gas pipeline?


If we can't increase supply, prices will spiral. They'll spiral the most when seasonal weather forces us to lean on baseload power like coal and gas.

No reasonable person is against finding new and better ways to produce energy. The problem is not wind and solar technology. Politicians and activists have manipulated the energy markets in favor of those sources while ignoring their shortcomings to produce outcomes rooted in ideology, not reality.

Remember that when it's scorching outside or frigid, and we need energy the most, it's not solar and wind that's keeping the lights on .

To comment on this article, visit

Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
What to read next
The Supreme Court has not said that abortion is illegal. The court has said that Americans can set abortion policy for themselves through elections and legislative acts. The Supreme Court has not said that the EPA can never regulate carbon emissions, only that Congress didn't give that federal agency the authority to do what it was doing.
"Overturning federal protections that provide access to health care, the right to marry, the right to live out one’s sexual orientation, the right to define one’s own gender may make us feel better because of our interpretation of scripture. But in reality, what it does is put lives in jeopardy, impoverish the already impoverished, reduce human dignity, further marginalize the marginalized, alienate those already upset with the church’s hypocrisy and continues to splinter the body of Christ."
Omdahl writes, "Congress has been appropriating less and less money for the IRS until all the agency has is a skeleton force and makes me wait at least two months for my refund. In reality, it is cheating the system because billions of tax dollars escape every year, leaving those of us in the middle class paying more than our share."
"Across Agweek Country, hundreds of farmers, ranchers and other agriculturalists are deciding whether this will be their last full-time year in ag. They still enjoy what they do, but they also realize it might be time to step back."