Today you’re reading this on the pixels of a fully-powered computer screen. But fast forward 14 years from today, and the power supply for states across the country starts to become a flickering question mark without a solid answer. Based on government data and statistics, states nationwide are facing energy shortfalls that could reach up to 30% in some states. September 14th is the day of the year, percentage-wise, after which they could face a serious energy gap unless intelligent decisions regarding infrastructure investments are made today.
The “blackout” threat is real, though for one to understand it fully it requires some explanation. The blackout predictions are developed by examining a combination of each state’s energy breakdown, EPA clean energy goals and the domino effect of decisions and policies that are being made right now.
States across the country are managing current energy demands while simultaneously pursuing their emissions reductions’ targets laid out in the Clean Power Plan. To help the U.S. demonstrate global leadership on climate change, states must depend less on higher-carbon energy sources and more on cleaner options. The entire continental U.S., except Vermont, must meet individual state targets by 2030 to avoid energy shortages ranging from single digits to 30% in some states.
While some states are better positioned than others to meet emissions targets by the 2030 deadline, every state faces the challenge of keeping the lights on for its residents, businesses and industries as demand goes up, high-carbon energy going offline and a number of clean nuclear plants being shuttered. But based on their current energy mix, projected needs, and plant closures – without additional natural gas facilities – states face a dramatic energy crunch. At the end of the day, it’s basic math: more demand and less supply.
For example, on September 14, 2030 –– fourteen years from today –– the lights in 2.8 million West Virginia homes could flicker and go out, just days after Massachusetts and North Dakota experience the same. These state shortfalls are around 30%, which, when you project it against the 365 day calendar means that they won’t have an energy source for the remainder of the year. (In other words, today we pass the 70% mark of the year with only 30% remaining.) A week later, Ohio and Michigan would follow suit, followed by dozens of other states through October and November.
This gloomy, looming scenario can be avoided however by investing in cleaner-burning natural gas infrastructure today. Natural gas has already helped the U.S. curb its carbon emissions in the past decade. It also provides reliable support backup for renewable technologies like solar and wind, which need the assistance of other sources of power when the sun isn’t out or the skies are still.
More than a dozen states, in fact, are already involved in shovel-ready natural gas pipeline projects that will produce jobs for skilled and trained workers, inject value into state economies and improve air quality to help mitigate health risks. Expanding this investment in natural gas promises a brighter, cleaner energy future in lieu of dimly lit days ahead.
Projected 2030 “Lights Out” Dates
States in orange have projects that could address this threat.