Energy Department Report Highlights Importance of Fossil and Nuclear Power Plants during Extreme Weather Events

Apr 6, 2018

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) recently released a report examining the advantages of fossil and nuclear power plants during extreme weather events. During the two-week spell of bitterly cold weather that occurred between December and January of this year, which included a “bomb cyclone” across much of the East Coast, NETL researchers found that, “combined, fossil and nuclear energy plants provided 89% of electricity during peak demand.” The report further found that the movement towards cleaner but more intermittent forms of energy “…could have an adverse impact on the nation’s ability to meet power generation needs during future severe weather events.”

During the bomb cyclone events, when swathes of the Eastern part of the country experienced record cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time, coal energy plants were able to keep up with the demand for power to heat homes and offices. Without this source of energy, the report notes that it is likely there would have been a dearth of energy, resulting in blackouts, leaving many in the cold.

The Trump Administration has previously argued that coal and nuclear power assets are undervalued, and that electricity rates should be adjusted to provide more support for power generation from coal and nuclear sources.  However, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejected the Department of Energy’s proposal for differential pricing for coal and nuclear earlier this year.

To view the full NETL report, visit:
https://www.netl.doe.gov/research/energy-analysis/search-publications/vuedetails?id=2594