Legal challenges halted several major pipeline projects across the U.S. in recent days. Over the weekend, two of the country’s biggest utilities cancelled their Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, citing costs that have ballooned to as much as $8 billion and ongoing legal challenges from landowners and environmental groups.
While intermittent wind and solar power cannot be dispatched to meet peak grid needs, they can be paired with large-scale battery installations that can. Falling costs and greater economies of scale are already making this combination cost-competitive against natural-gas peaker plants in certain markets.
If you look at the last few years, electric utility companies were seeking to acquire gas utilities as a hedge against moderate electric load growth but today they are moving back, in the face of sustained public policy and consumer interest in low-carbon energy.
Beyond public pressure, there may be a growing economic incentive for utilities to shift from natural gas to renewable electricity.
In a Sunday statement, the CEO’s of Duke and Dominion expressed regret for cancelling the Atlantic Coast Pipeline at the same time, both utilities are increasingly looking to renewable energy to supply a significant portion of their future power supplies not only because the states they operate in are increasingly demanding it but also because it is becoming an increasingly more cost-effective alternative.
There is widespread popular support for using renewable energy, particularly solar and wind energy, which provide electricity without giving rise to any carbon dioxide emissions. Renewable energy sources have a completely different set of environmental costs and benefits to fossil fuel or nuclear-generating capacity.
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