America is on the path to an energy crisis with a major shortfall looming on the horizon. Just this month, the organization charged with managing power supplies for the Midwest (Midcontinent Independent System Operator or MISO) published its annual survey and projected up to a 2.4 gigawatt energy shortfall in some pockets of the region as soon as 2018. However, the increased risk of such shortfalls is a nationwide problem. There’s a wide gap developing between the power we have and the power we need, because electricity demand is projected to increase while reliable power sources continue to go offline. And adding new generation is complicated, since we must meet the government’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Clean Power Progress – a project of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA!) – is working to educate the public about reasonable solutions to the crisis and the importance of expanding natural gas infrastructure as part of a comprehensive approach to meeting state and national clean energy needs. Natural gas makes sense as a dependable and affordable energy solution that also enables large-scale deployment of renewables, bringing the nation closer to reaching clean energy targets through lowered emissions. We will take a look at the national forecast, but also spotlight dozens of states’ specific challenges and highlight key natural gas projects that can help fill the clean energy gap.
We will let the science speak for itself. Data from public utilities and regulators have analyzed the country’s electricity needs, and President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) goals specify the emissions cuts needed over the coming decades. Together the numbers add up to a darker tomorrow if we stay on this course. Demand for energy is slated to grow by 14 percent in the United States by the CPP’s deadline of 2030. That increase, combined with nuclear plant closures and fossil fuel cuts designed to reduce carbon emissions, would put the country in a 1.1 billion megawatt/hour hole. Fast-forward to 2030, and that would be 21 percent of the nation’s energy consumption demand; for context, that is more power than was used in 2015 for America’s agriculture, assembly lines and construction combined!
While the renewable energy sector shows great promise and attracts a lot of attention, the fact is that wind, solar, and hydro are not prepared to fill the nation’s energy shortfall in the near term. If we wanted to rely solely on today’s existing solar energy capabilities to fill the nation’s 2030 energy gap, we’d have to cover the Grand Canyon with solar panels twice over, at the cost of $1.1 trillion. Looking at just one state for example, half of New York City would have to be paved over with solar panels for the state to make up its own shortfall, at the cost of $51 billion. We are aligned with Americans who want to aggressively reach clean air targets, but we need realistic solutions.
Our hub at www.cleanpowerprogress.org synthesizes publicly available data to begin a fact-based conversation in support of a realistic clean energy policy. Visitors to our site from across the country can view the specific energy, health and jobs benefits through a common-sense approach to natural gas as a bridge fuel to meet clean energy goals.
We appreciate you visiting Clean Power Progress and hope you share what you learn here with friends and colleagues as the national energy conversation continues. We believe you will agree that it is going to take pragmatic, comprehensive development of America’s natural gas resources to achieve our clean energy targets and keep America’s lights on.