US Energy Department Calls for Cheaper Power Plants

The U.S. Energy Department is calling for the country to make running power plants cheaper and easier because the electric grid would be strengthened if regulators lessened the burdens on power plants which include coal and nuclear. Closing plants would increase the risk that consumers might not have reliable electricity.

The federal government is urged to make licensing and permitting quicker and cheaper for facilities which includes nuclear, coal, hydro, advanced generation technologies, and transmission.

Over the past 15 years, the U.S. energy market has gone through many changes where 15% of the generating capacity that existed in 2002 has been retired which included many coal fired plants that were replaced by plants burning cheap natural gas. Coal was replaced by natural gas in 2016 as the leading fuel for electricity. Renewables have been helped by federal tax credits and favorable state policies that have made lower variable costs than baseload plants which involve coal and nuclear that increased high rates of electricity for many years.

The Energy Department has been arguing that fossil fuel plants are needed to make the grid reliable and that policies promoting renewables should be cut back. However, there is evidence in California that solar energy is renewable and one of the biggest challenges right now is how to preserve the nation’s coal fleet so it can continue supporting a reliable electricity grid.

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