US Senate Committee Hearing to Examine the Electricity Sector in a Changing Climate
On March 5, 2019, Analysis Group Senior Advisor Susan F. Tierney testified before the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on trends in the US electricity sector that are affecting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In her written testimony, Dr. Tierney detailed the major transition that the electric power system is undergoing: that system, she wrote, is more diverse than in the past, more resilient, and more economically efficient, which has contributed to lower consumer electricity bills over the past 10 years. The previous decade has also seen an overall decrease in carbon dioxide emissions, with reductions occurring in nearly every individual state. Many of these trends, Dr. Tierney testified, are poised to continue in the future, thanks to a greater awareness of the effects of climate change.
Not all of the news is positive, she continued, pointing out that the effects of climate change are emerging in unexpected and costly ways, including severe droughts and flooding. And even though emissions have been curtailed, those reductions have not been happening quickly or deeply enough, and the growth of renewable, non-GHG-emitting electricity sources such as wind and solar continues to lag. Current projections of power-sector emissions, she testified, are inconsistent with avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
Looking ahead, Dr. Tierney wrote in conclusion, “it will be important to avoid adopting prematurely narrow technological solution sets (such as hard-and-fast commitments to renewable-only solutions) and to create options for the many different technologies and strategies that will be needed to allow Americans to prosper in a low-carbon economy.”