WASHINGTON (Nexstar) – On Capitol Hill, lawmakers and experts discussed whether the country is ready to transition to clean energy amid concerns that the U.S. doesn’t have the necessary systems in place to produce, capture and distribute renewable power without serious problems.
“I fear we are going to have blackouts and I’m afraid we’re going to see (a) significant number of lives lost,” said David Tudor, with Associated Electric Cooperative.
On Thursday, experts on the nation’s power grid told senators the country will not be ready to transition to clean energy before more coal power plants start shutting down in 2028.
“We’ve got this push for all these new renewables, and we’ve got this push to shut down all these plants that work and there’s nothing there in the middle to save us,” Tudor explained.
West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says there are challenges created by switching to clean and renewable energy.
“If we don’t have storage and we can’t store it, and it has to be either used or lost,” he said.
Energy producers blame United States Environmental Protection Agency regulations for the planned shutdowns, but Senator John Hickenlooper says that’s not the full picture.
“The pressure that’s coming to make these changes more rapidly really is coming from the public,” Sen. Hickenlooper (D-CO) said.
Hickenlooper says the public wants clean energy because climate change is making wildfires and storms worse, is impacting people’s lives and threatens the existing power grid.
“How do we balance reliability with the urgency to address climate change before the extreme weather accelerates to a point where we really can’t deal with it?” Hickenlooper added.
One idea would keep coal-fired power plants operating until 2035 to give clean energy technology more time to advance.