Report: Clean Energy Future Still Possible Without Legislation

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A new report from the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute think tank outlines what will happen if Congress does not pass an energy bill this year. The report, prepared by Synapse Energy Economic, outlines a ‘Transition Scenario’ that would step up energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, allowing the country to retire all coal-fired power plants and over a quarter of existing nuclear reactors. The overall cost of the plan would involve modest near-term costs over a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, but result in savings by 2040.Â

In addition, many environmental and health impacts of the electric power industry would be dramatically reduced, including carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – the primary cause of global warming – as well as emissions of from mercury, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, according to the report.

‘This study investigates a long-term, national strategy to transition away from coal and nuclear electricity and toward increased efficiency and renewable energy,’ says Bruce Biewald, president of Synapse Energy Economics. ‘The study finds that a future built on more efficient use of electricity and development of the nation's renewable resources would pose modest near-term costs but would cost less than 'business as usual' over the long term.’

Using only existing technology and making no assumption or adjustment for the passage of federal carbon legislation and related price setting, the Synapse report for the Civil Society Institute develops a scenario for 2010-2050 that would provide the following benefits:

– Aggressive investments in more efficient technologies in every sector could reduce electricity use by 15% from today's requirements, or over 40% from a BAU scenario;

– The U.S. could feasibly retire the entire fleet of coal-fired plants and build no new coal-fired generation, rather than burning more coal; and

– Electric sector emissions of CO2 could fall by 82% relative to predicted 2010 levels.

According to the report, the scenario would cost an estimated $10 billion per year more than the BAU in 2020, but it would save $5 billion annually by 2040 and $13 billion annually by 2050. These are direct costs only; they do not include savings resulting from reduced CO2 emissions or public health costs.

Read the report online at civilsocietyinstitute.org.

SOURCE: The Civil Society Institute  Â

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