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Will President Obama's Clean Power Plan Fly?

air executive order all means for renewable and nuclear energies. Mykrobel’s Bellemare says that from a technical perspective, nuclear energy would be an ideal replacement for coal  — except that there are only a few places in the United States where such plants could get permitted.

Bloomberg’s Barnett counters that “nuclear will be lucky to keep its existing plants operational” while any advantage given to renewables will be limited  — ideas countered by Bystrom, who says that nuclear now has a “chance to get back in the game,” adding that it is possible that new construction could begin in the United States as a result, although at a smaller scale than today’s base-load plants.

Renewables, meantime, will be an “incremental contributor” that is driven by not just the clean power plan but also by portfolio standards and falling costs, notes Bystrom. “The cost declines are astonishing.”

Changes to the Clean Air Act will be evolutionary, giving time for utilities to adjust. Those alterations will not, however, be the electric marketplace’s primary determinant. That would be pure economics where investments in natural gas generation are coming at the expense of coal, and others. Even then, utilities will hedge their bets and keep a portfolio of fuel options.


Ken Silverstein covers energy for Forbes and the CSMonitor.