From the Washington Examiner

A new report on nuclear energy could ignite debate on Capitol Hill over whether to allow renewable energy subsidies to sunset, or renew them as Democrats are seeking to do.

The free-market Manhattan Institute’s latest report on nuclear energy says the best thing Congress can do to help nuclear energy is to eliminate both subsidies for wind and solar.

The July 10 study, now being circulated on Capitol Hill, concludes that renewables subsidies have hurt the market for nuclear power by making it harder for nuclear power plants to bid into the wholesale electricity markets to sell their power.

Tax credits for solar are slated to decrease in value at the end of the year toward phaseout, but Democrats have been mulling extensions to renew the subsidies.

Here’s the problem for nuclear: The subsidies create negative prices, which give renewable energy an advantage, given market rules that favor the lowest-cost form of generation. Large nuclear utilities like Exelon have argued against wind subsidies for years, blaming them for some of the financial difficulties power plants have been experiencing.

It is something that Democrats running for president should seriously consider in making climate change a key issue in their campaigns, said Jonathan Lesser, economist and author of the report.

All the Democrats are calling for something akin to a Green New Deal, which will demand increased electrification of the economy, but “they won’t say a damn thing about nuclear,” Lesser told John in an interview.

“They should realize that it is impossible to reach their goals without nuclear power,” he added. “Wind and solar won’t do it.”

The progressive Green New Deal calls for creating a carbon-neutral economy beginning in about a decade, with the nation transitioning to primarily solar and wind to provide its electricity.

Lesser’s previous reports have been influential in inspiring conservative lawmakers to introduce legislation to phase out subsidies, and the new report may have a similar effect.

John Barrasso, the Wyoming Republican who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, used one of Lesser’s reports to inform a bill he introduced earlier this year to end federal subsidies for electric cars. Lesser explains that it would be immensely difficult to rely completely on renewables without the backbone of nuclear power plants also in the mix.

Solar and wind have the nation covered: The report shows that nearly a third of the nation would have to be covered with wind turbines in order to rely solely on renewable energy, along with an area the size of Oregon covered with solar panels. And that doesn’t take into consideration the reliability issues that come from the ebb and flow of renewable power when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

New transmission lines and battery storage devices will be required to make up for the losses in electricity inherent in using more renewables, and the current state of battery technology isn’t efficient enough to do so, Lesser explained.

Meanwhile, a new report issued Thursday by the large environmental coalition Environment America argues that the federal government needs to better value the benefits of rooftop solar in developing energy policy.

The report looks to confront studies by utility firms and grid operators that tend to only look at the reliability issues confronted in adding more solar to the grid, failing to properly value the societal and public health benefits of rooftop solar, especially given the threat of climate change.


Legal Notice