Chairman of America’s Power Explains Why Grid Diversity, That Includes Coal, Should Help Shape Our Energy Future
March 3, 2022
“No source of electricity is infallible,” wrote CEO of Big Rivers Electric Corp. and chairman of America’s Power, Bob Berry, in his March 1 Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor. “That’s why we need a mix of coal, natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy.”
Mr. Berry is referring to the diversity of fuel sources our power grid will need so that it can stay reliable and resilient as our nation continues to electrify and increase its demand for power. Responding and adding to a Wall Street Journal article underscoring the need to upgrade U.S. power-transmission infrastructure, Mr. Berry outlines real-life examples of how an all-the-above energy strategy, that includes coal, is pivotal to keeping our lights on in an affordable and responsible way.
Titled, No One Source Should Generate All That Power, Bob Berry’s Letter to the Editor can be read here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/electricity-source-power-energy-coal-regulation-infrastructure-11646091798
“The Power Struggle” (Exchange, Feb. 19) is compelling on the need to upgrade aging power-transmission infrastructure. We need to think as carefully about where we will get our power. No source of electricity is infallible. That’s why we need a mix of coal, natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy. When some of these underperform, others can fill the gap. This makes the grid more reliable and electricity prices more affordable and stable. It can also help save lives.
During extreme cold weather a year ago, average capacity factors in a 15-state region of the Midwest were 90% for nuclear plants, 84% for coal-fired plants, 40% for natural-gas plants and 17% for wind. Wind was the only electricity source whose capacity factor declined during the cold weather. The capacity factor for coal increased more than any of the others. This doesn’t mean that wind is a bad source of electricity. Rather, these numbers show the value of having a mix of resources that includes coal.
As the electricity grid becomes less carbon-intensive, we still have to keep the lights on by modernizing the nation’s transmission system and maintaining a reliable mix of resources.
Mr. Berry is CEO of Big Rivers Electric Corp. and chairman of America’s Power, a trade group that advocates coal-fueled electricity.