Federal T.V.A. Electric Utility Finds that Renewables Are Less Dependable than Gas

(p. A17) WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest federally owned utility plans to invest more than $3.5 billion in new gas-burning electric plants, despite President Biden’s commitment to swiftly move away from fossil fuels and eliminate greenhouse gases from the power sector in a little more than a decade.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity to nearly 10 million people across the Southeast, is replacing aging power plants that run on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. But critics say substituting gas for coal would lock in decades of additional carbon dioxide emissions that are heating the planet and could be avoided by generating more electricity from solar, wind or another renewable source.

. . .

In its deliberations about replacing coal-fired generators, the T.V.A. found that solar or other zero-emissions sources would be less dependable and more expensive than gas, said Catherine Butler, a spokeswoman for the T.V.A.

. . .

“We have an obligation to serve, and ensure the lights come on,” she said. “So, when renewables aren’t available, natural gas will be available to ensure that reliable, resilient service is available to power our communities.”

For the full story, see:

Lisa Friedman. “Largest Federal Utility Chooses Gas, Undermining Biden’s Climate Goals.” The New York Times (Friday, March 18, 2022): A17.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated March 18, 2022, and has the same title as the print version.)

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