Report Outlines Path for Energy Future In SE

Guest Blog | November 16, 2011 | Press Releases

Knoxville, Tenn. (November 16, 2011) — Good news for utility ratepayers in the Southeast: In addition to enjoying cleaner air and less demand on increasingly scarce water resources, Americans would likely see lower, rather than higher, electricity costs by 2020 if the U.S. adopts a long-term strategy to replace coal-fired electricity with energy efficiency and renewable resources, according to a major new report from Synapse Energy Economics for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI). Southern Alliance for Clean Energy joined CSI today in releasing and commenting on the report in the Southeast. Titled “Toward a Sustainable Future for the US Power Sector: Beyond Business as Usual 2011,” the new Synapse/CSI report outlines a future under which: • The transition to a cleaner energy future would result in a net savings of $83 billion over the next 40 years. • The construction and operation of the new power plants in the first decade would create roughly 3.1 million new job-years – the equivalent of 310,000 people employed for the entire decade. • The steep health and environmental (including water use) impacts of coal-fired electricity are dramatically reduced and, by 2050, eliminated altogether when all such facilities are retired. For example, over $450 billion in health effects and 55,000 premature deaths are avoided relative to “BAU” trends linked to pollution from coal-fired plants. • Due in part to a significantly increased emphasis on energy efficiency, power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2020 would fall 25 percent below 2010 levels; by 2050, such pollution would be 81 percent below 2010 levels. Under “business as usual” (BAU) status quo trends, CO2 emissions would grow 28 percent from current levels by 2050. • By retiring a number of existing nuclear plants and not building new ones, the risks associated with nuclear power generation and the nuclear fuel cycle are reduced considerably. • Natural gas use in 2050 would be reduced 28 percent from projected levels for 2050. Simon Mahan, Renewable Energy Manager for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said: “This is extremely encouraging news for those of us who are working to ensure that the Southeast keeps moving ahead on the path to a cleaner energy future. The roadmap outlined in this report shows that such a transition is both feasible and affordable. The Southeast can and should embrace a workable and cost-effective future that is built on cleaner energy.” Civil Society Institute President Pam Solo said: “The evidence is all around us that America needs to move to a cleaner energy future. The use of fracking in natural gas exploration is coming under scrutiny with new evidence of groundwater contamination and greenhouse gas emissions. Concerns are increasing about the vast amounts of water used at coal-fired and nuclear power plants, particularly in regions of the country facing water shortages. Events at the Fukushima nuclear plant have renewed doubts about the ability to operate large numbers of nuclear plants safely over the long term. We applaud the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy for its efforts to help advance the U.S. in the direction of cleaner energy.” Synapse Energy Economics President Bruce Biewald said: “Information has emerged over the past year suggesting that the cost of replacing coal with clean energy is falling. The current and projected price of coal has increased, and the price of photovoltaic systems has fallen sharply since 2009, a result of unprecedented growth in this sector globally. Further, the financial community is placing higher risk premiums on technologies with carbon emissions, making renewable energy and efficiency more attractive. Given these trends, a revision of last year’s study seemed especially timely. The results of this analysis are very encouraging. We find that a transition to efficiency and renewable energy for our electricity is likely to be less expensive than the business-as-usual status quo approach.” The new Synapse report for the Civil Society Institute updates a similar report issued in May 2010. The new report is available online at’S NOTE: You can participate in a related live, phone-based news conference (with full, two-way Q&A) at 1:30 p.m. EST on November 16, 2011 by dialing 1 877.270.2148. Ask for the “sustainable energy future” news event. A streaming audio replay of a related news event will be available on the Web at as of 5 p.m. EST on November 16, 2011. # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.? Based in Newton, MA, the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute ( ) is a think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. Since 2003, CSI has conducted more than 25 major national and state-level surveys and reports on energy and energy-related issues. In addition to being a co-convener of (, the Civil Society Institute also is the parent organization of the Hybrid Owners of America ( Synapse Energy Economics ( provides research, testimony, reports and regulatory support on energy, economic, and environmental topics. Synapse has a professional staff of 22 with more than 300 years of combined experience in the electricity and natural gas industries. Synapse assesses the implications of electricity and natural gas industry planning, regulation and restructuring. Synapse works for a wide range of clients throughout the United States, including attorneys general, offices of consumer advocates, public utility commissions, a variety of environmental groups, foundations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Justice, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and others.