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The Future of the Electric Grid

May
2020

Renewable energy is no longer a fringe idea of a hopeful few — it is the future of the electric grid. Perhaps the near future.

Renewables have been plagued by the misconception that they are expensive and unreliable. Such thinking appears antiquated as coal-fired power plants shutter and demand is reliably met by alternative energy sources that include solar and wind. A June 2018 report by Colorado’s Xcel Energy stated that it could save $213 million by retiring two of its coal-fired units ahead of schedule and replacing them with a mix of wind, solar, battery storage, and natural gas. New York has set a goal to get 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, which will require the state to close coal plants, expand solar and wind capacity, and install energy storage to manage the load.

Even Texas, best known for its fossil fuel reserves, is leveraging alternative energy. This oil state is also rich in wind and, surprisingly, it is not only the top producer of wind energy in the U.S., it also stacks up globally with the fifth-largest wind power capacity (if compared to countries). Texas’ emergence as a wind powerhouse “wasn’t a matter of climate change or ideology, it was purely economics,” says...

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