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DOE Grid Study Boosts Coal, Downplays Renewables

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Natural gas and market forces are the largest influence on the retirement of coal-fired power plants, a long-awaited Department of Energy study concluded.

The study, released late Wednesday night, proposes slashing certain regulations, including reducing permitting requirements at coal-fired power plants, to make it easier for nuclear and coal plants to keep operating.


While the study does not issue an all-out attack on renewable energy, as many advocates feared following Secretary Rick Perry's aggressive April memo ordering the study, it downplays renewables' reliability benefits to the grid and suggests price changes to wind and solar. A draft of the study from DOE staff, leaked earlier this month, concluded that renewable energy is not a threat to grid reliability.

In response, Janet Redman, U.S. policy director at Oil Change International, released the following statement:

"The Department of Energy's grid study does little more than reveal the Trump administration's pro-fossil fuel bias and anti-regulation agenda.

"Trump and his dirty DOE refuse to face the facts—thanks to growth in renewable energy and efficiency, America's demand for electricity is flatlining, and clean energy options like solar and wind power are outperforming dirty energy like coal. Yet, this study ignores those facts and calls for fast-tracking coal-fired power plants, fracked gas pipelines and other dirty projects that would lock in climate pollution for decades. The DOE needs to pull its head out of the sand.

"Instead of embracing the clean energy future that Americans want, the Trump administration is looking backwards. Propping up a dirty energy system of the past at the expense of renewables makes the nation's energy grid more polluting and American families less secure."

For a deeper dive:

AP, Reuters, Washington Post, New York Times, WSJ, FT, NPR, Bloomberg, Washington Examiner, LA Times, The Hill. Commentary: ThinkProgress, Joe Romm column. Background: Climate Nexus

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