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New report: Adding renewables keeps the lights on and money in America’s pockets

New report: Adding renewables keeps the lights on and money in America’s pockets
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Yesterday, a new report from Analysis Group reconfirmed an important point: adding renewable energy to America’s electricity grid strengthens reliability and saves consumers money.

AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan penned a column in the Huffington Post explaining some of Analysis Group’s findings. Here are a few highlights:

  • Although some commentators have raised concerns that the declining financial viability of certain conventional power plant technologies…may be jeopardizing electric system reliability, there is no evidence supporting that conclusion.
  • Many advanced energy technologies can and do provide reliability benefits by increasing the diversity of the system. The addition of newer, more technologically advanced and more efficient natural gas and renewable technologies is rendering the power systems in this country more, rather than less, diverse.
  • “By replacing a portion of the higher-cost fuel we used to burn in our plants, we have been able to add renewables and invest in making the power grid even more reliable, all while keeping electricity affordable,” said Ben Fowke, CEO of Xcel Energy, in the past week.
  • Why does adding wind and solar make the system more reliable? They’re now widespread, they change slowly and predictably, they can be flexibly managed, and a diverse system is the most reliable system. That way, if one generation source fails, others can pick up the slack.
  • In February 2011, when many coal plants broke down due to extreme cold, wind output remained high throughout that event, earning accolades from the grid operator for helping to keep the lights on. Because all energy sources, whether coal, natural gas, wind, or nuclear, are subject to interruptions, diversity makes the power system reliable.
  • Fundamental market forces – the addition of highly efficient new gas-fired resources, low natural gas prices, and flat demand for electricity – are primarily responsible for altering the profitability of many older merchant generating assets in parts of the country.
  • A simple glance at where coal and nuclear plants are being retired offers evidence: It’s mostly in the Northeast and Southeast, areas with comparatively few wind turbines. Meanwhile, there have been few coal and nuclear retirements across the Wind Belt, where states like Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas and the Dakotas are all now generating more than 20 percent of their electricity using wind.
  • Analysis Group researchers find “the ongoing diversification of generation supply has lowered wholesale electricity costs in most parts of the U.S. and has contributed to recent declines in consumers’ overall cost of living.”

You can read the full column here.

Check out this video for more information about how wind keeps the lights on for American families and businesses:

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Greg is the Writer and Content Manager for AWEA. He is the head editor and writer for Into the Wind, and oversees AWEA's online content and opinion writing. Greg holds a Master's degree in Global Environmental Policy from American University's School of International Service. He also holds a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Journalism from Lehigh University.

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