Q&A Series: Mike Grim discusses the renewable plan in Texas and how the U.S. can lead the way in renewables

Mike Grim is an energy executive with over 40 years of experience with public power utilities, investor-owned utilities, state legislatures, local, state and federal regulatory agencies, lobbyists, and a joint energy action agency. His chief expertise is in project management, strategic planning, operations, energy portfolio management and trading, sustainability, external affairs, and business/economic development.

Question: Please describe yourself and your work.

Mike: I have over 42 years working and consulting in the electric power industry and have also taught energy topics at the collegiate level. I was honored to lead a team of professionals that developed the Renewable Denton Plan that changed the paradigm of energy management and the scheduling of power to optimize renewable energy and fossil generation. The plan utilized renewable energy to fulfill baseload energy demand and then filled energy peaks or spikes with quick start generation.

My leadership on this project led a Texas city to move from 0% renewable wind energy to 40% renewable in one year, which was the most wind energy per capita than any other city in the United States at that time. Later, I led the development of a renewable strategy that successfully changed the energy portfolio paradigm to utilize renewable energy for baseload power and then use quick-start generation to cover renewable intermittency and optimize the overall energy portfolio.

Q: Describe your passion for renewable energy and how you have put it into practice in the United States.

Mike: I was fortunate enough to lead a hand-picked team of professionals in developing the first paradigm where renewable energy was utilized as baseload power. The renewable energy strategy work and the efforts of my team have been published by the U.S. State Department with a recommendation that African countries adopt such an approach to energy. The renewable energy paradigm and issues that we faced were largely featured in the book, “Goodbye to Deerland, Leading Your Utility Through the American Energy Transition,” by my good friend Matti Rautkivi.

Q: How would you like to see your work implemented on a global scale?

Mike: It is appreciated that my efforts in changing the renewable paradigm are called “my work.” However, I believe the deployment of renewable energy is a “team effort” and includes my team, the work of pioneers and visionaries and me. We are all in this together!

I believe the integration of renewable energy can be achieved on a very large scale but to achieve that goal, countries throughout the world should consider adopting an “all of the above” approach. That is, not every country has the appropriate climate for using solar, wind, tidal or geothermal energy. What may work for South Africa may not work for Ukraine. Each country needs to examine their resources and how best to achieve the path to 100 percent. Achieving a 100% renewable portfolio will not be achieved overnight, so individual countries should be closely examining the incremental steps it can take to achieve their energy goals. A wise person once said, “completing a long journey begins with the first step.” I believe that philosophy is valid vis-à-vis renewable energy.

Q: You have said that one of the greatest areas of opportunity for the U.S.’s renewable energy journey is the areas of the country with large amounts of sun, wind, tidal surges, and natural gas. How could the U.S. capitalize on renewable opportunities in these regions?

Mike: If more regions of the country would pursue what fits their climate the best, that would be optimum. It has been said before, but it bears repeating that “one size does not fit all.”

Q: Now, what do you consider to be the main barriers or challenges the U.S. faces on its path to clean and affordable energy?

Mike: The main barriers or challenges to clean and affordable energy are the lack of vision and creativity. Moreover, some countries say they want clean and affordable energy by a certain date. Unfortunately, these countries make commitments without a specific plan which ultimately leads to failure in obtaining their renewable goals.  In some areas, including the U.S., sometimes you have to incrementally build bridges to reach the ultimate goal of a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio.

Q: Finally, how can the U.S. lead the way towards 100 percent renewable energy? And what progress do you foresee for the region in the coming years?

Mike: If a plan is developed and implemented in a logical, rational and non-political manner, I believe 100% renewable is achievable. The key is planning and citizen support. The approach is no different than strategies that landed man on the moon. The race to reach the moon was performed in different stages with different projects and so must our race to achieve 100% renewable energy portfolios!


Photo by Thomas S. on Unsplash