NewEnergyNews More: People Want Utilities To Make 100% New Energy Work

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  • Monday, September 17, 2018

    People Want Utilities To Make 100% New Energy Work

    Utilities have a problem: the public wants 100% renewable energy, and quick; The industry is groping for ways to talk the public down.

    David Roberts. September 16, 2018 (VOX)

    “…[M]ore than 80 cities, five counties, and two states have committed to 100 percent renewables. Six cities have already hit the target…[and] 144 private companies across the globe] have committed to 100 percent renewables, including Google, Ikea, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Nike, GM, and, uh, Lego…[W]hile there are some visionary utilities in the country, as an industry, they tend to be extremely small-c conservative…They do not like the idea of being forced to transition entirely to renewable energy, certainly not in the next 10 to 15 years. For one thing, most of them don’t believe the technology exists to make 100 percent work reliably; they believe that even with lots of storage, variable renewables will need to be balanced out by “dispatchable” power plants like natural gas…

    For another thing, getting to 100 percent quickly would mean lots of “stranded assets,” i.e., shutting down profitable fossil fuel power plants…The industry’s dilemma is brought home by a recent bit of [utility industry] market research and polling…[The takeaway it that] 100 percent renewables is a wildly popular goal…[A] majority of those surveyed (51 percent) believe that 100 percent renewables is a good idea even if it raises their energy bills by 30 percent…Americans don’t generally like people raising their bills, much less by a third. A majority that still favors it…is political dynamite…[If] utilities were in a public relations war over renewables, they’ve lost…

    Customers do not want to hear excuses…An anti-renewables message, even a message that implies anti-renewables, is simply untenable…[That leaves three New Energy approaches, starting with most activists and advocates supporting] 100 percent renewables as a clear, intuitive, and inspiring target…The second camp believes that the cheaper, safer way to get to carbon-free electricity is not to rely entirely on renewables but to supplement them with “firm” zero-carbon alternatives like hydro, nuclear, geothermal, biomass, or fossil fuels with carbon capture and sequestration…The third camp, containing many utilities and conservatives, flatly doesn’t believe 100 percent carbon-free electricity is possible anytime soon…[The coming fight between advocates and utilities will be over how fast the transition can happen and whether it will be about renewables or] decarbonization…” click here for more

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