America’s Energy Needs and Climate Goals

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A New Surge in Power Use Is Threatening U.S. Climate Goals

A boom in data centers and factories is straining electric grids and propping up fossil fuels.

To the Editor:

Re “Energy Appetite in U.S. Endangers Goals on Climate” (front page, March 18):

The projected new growth in power demand does present new challenges, but we have the policy tools to address them and still achieve U.S. climate goals. New power sector standards from the Environmental Protection Agency and a long-needed new transmission rule from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will help the grid become more resilient and reliable.

But, given the challenges, we need much more action. Utilities, regional grid operators and federal energy agencies need to plan ahead and better assess future power needs. From there, they must nimbly deploy policies, technologies and market-based strategies to make the most of the grid we now have, provide new clean supply, invest in energy efficiency and get smarter about managing demand.

And it’s not just power demand challenging the power sector: Climate change is posing unprecedented challenges to the reliability and resilience of the grid. What this all means is that we cannot continue to rely on the dirty fossil fuels of the past to keep the lights on.

Climate will remain at the center of the challenges facing the grid in the 21st century, and it must remain at the center of our solutions, too.

Kit Kennedy
The writer is the power sector lead at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

To the Editor:

For years, electric cooperatives have sounded the alarm about threats to electric reliability. Not all countries have dependable, round-the-clock access to electricity. If we take our electric grid for granted, we will soon realize its true value the hard way.

Demand is growing and supply is struggling to keep up. Bad public policy is encouraging the premature closure of always available power plants, the E.P.A. has proposed new regulations that will force the shutdown of more plants, and the nation’s environmental laws make it extremely difficult to obtain permits to build any new electric generation, transmission or distribution infrastructure.

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