America

21st Century Energy Outlook: Quite Similar To The Last Two Centuries

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy sponsored the event.

But the speaker, Anthony Alexander, the chief executive of FirstEnergy Corp., offered a vigorous defense of that 20th century invention — nuclear power. And he was even more adamant about the value of the 19th century's key energy source — coal.

In this century, power companies are facing "far more intrusive and disruptive" interference from government than ever before, Alexander said Tuesday. The Chamber event came in advance of Thursday's Senate Energy Committee hearing on the reliability of the electric grid.

Alexander heads the Akron-based holding company that can trace its lineage to the 1893 founding of Akron Electric Light and Power Co.

Unlike the past, "electricity is under attack in our country," he said. "I believe state and federal policymakers are manipulating the supply and demand and distorting markets for electricity to further advance the 'war on coal,'" he said.

Alexander said energy efficiency, renewable power, distributed generation, micro grids, roof-top solar and demand reduction may play "some role" in the future, but "they are not substitutes for what has worked."

What works are the 19th and 20th centuries' "real generating assets such as coal, nuclear and natural gas," he said.

On Thursday, Cheryl Roberto of the Environmental Defense Fund, will testify at the Senate hearing. In her prepared remarks, she plans to say that "the electricity systems we built in the last century, and the regulations that govern them, are no longer adequate – either to ensure reliability, or to accommodate the rapid changes in technology, consumer needs, environmental standards, or the changing marketplace."

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