The U.S. may never need to build new nuclear or coal-fired power plants because renewable energy and improved efficiency can meet future power demand, the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said.
“They’re too expensive,” Jon Wellinghoff told reporters today at a press conference in Washington hosted by the U.S. Energy Association. “The last price I saw for a nuke was north of $7,000 a kilowatt. That’s more expensive than a solar system.”
Wellinghoff, a Democrat, was appointed chairman by President Barack Obama last month. He has served on the commission since 2006.
“There’s 500 to 700 gigawatts of developable wind throughout the Midwest,” he said, and “enough solar in the southwest, as we all know, to power the entire country. It’s a matter of being able to move it to loads.”
Demand reductions and electricity storage could offset the intermittent nature of wind and solar, he said. The U.S. currently has generating capacity of about 800 gigawatts, Wellinghoff said. There is also “at least 100 gigawatts” of hydropower, not including offshore projects that use wave and tides to generate electricity, said Wellinghoff.
Natural gas power plants will continue to be needed to help bridge the transition to renewable power, he said.
I'm open to thoughts on this one.