Earlier this week, three former Michigan governors used Earth Day as an occasion to call for more nuclear power plants to be built in Michigan. The three–two Republicans and one Democrat–argued that nuclear power would help meet the state’s energy needs and offer a clean alternative to coal power plants.
However, in an article published this week in The New York Times, Jon Wellinghoff–who serves as Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission–said that there may be no need to build either new nuclear or coal power plants to meet the country’s energy needs:
No new nuclear or coal plants may ever be needed in the United States, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said today.
“We may not need any, ever,” Jon Wellinghoff told reporters at a U.S. Energy Association forum.
Wellinghoff said renewables like wind, solar and biomass will provide enough energy to meet baseload capacity and future energy demands. Nuclear and coal plants are too expensive, he added.
Of renewable energy, Wellinghoff said:
There’s enough renewable energy to meet energy demand, Wellinghoff said. “There’s 500 to 700 gigawatts of developable wind throughout the Midwest, all the way to Texas. There’s probably another 200 to 300 gigawatts in Montana and Wyoming that can go West.”
He also cited tremendous solar power in the Southwest and hydrokinetic and biomass energy, and said the United States can reduce energy usage by 50 percent. “You combine all those things together … I think we have great resources in this country, and we just need to start using them,” he said.
Problems with unsteady power generation from wind will be overcome, he said.
It’s nice to see someone both questioning the need for new power plants and praising the benefits of renewable energy. Hopefully, Wellinghoff is able to sway those in President Barack Obama’s administration who have been previously unwilling to rule out nuclear power.