Just in time for ABC’s quote from environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calling President Barack Obama an indentured servant of the coal industry (and Kennedy’s later retraction), comes the pronouncement from none other than the chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Jon Wellinghoff (who joined the FERC under Bush), that the U.S. may never need another coal plant. Or nuclear plant, Wellinghoff added, noting that the concept of baseload capacity (i.e., coal-fired power plants running 24.7) may become a thing of the past.
Wellinghoff seems to suggest that renewable energy can be used in a complimentary fashion; wind kicking in on cloudy days, solar taking up the load on calm days, biomass filling the interstices and technologically advanced energy storage systems balancing the load. Currently, the U.S. has more than 10 percent of its power mix in renewables – and that includes a whopping 6.6 percent in hydroelectric (January 2009). But throw in advanced energy efficiencies, demand-side management (DSM; think crowd control for delivery), and some truly revolutionary advances like molted salt technology, and one begins to see the possibilities.
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