WASHINGTON – Electricity generation in the U.S. will cross a critical threshold some time this year or next, according to new government projections: One-fourth of the supply will start coming from solar, wind and other renewable sources.
In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, the Energy Information Agency, or EIA, expects power generation from renewables – mostly solar and wind – will reduce the electricity supply from both coal- and natural-gas-fired power plants over the next two years.
Source: Energy Information Agency, January 19, 2023.
“The steady growth of renewables in the U.S. electricity mix underscores the rapid increase in demand for solar and wind projects across the country,” said Alex Formuzis, a spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group.
The federal Inflation Reduction Act signed into law by President Joe Biden last year provides more than $360 billion for an array of climate mitigation and clean energy projects.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the percentage of solar- and wind-generated electricity exceeds the EIA’s projections over the next two years, as the hundreds of billions of dollars from the Inflation Reduction Act pour into clean energy initiatives,” Formuzis said.
The EIA report projects renewable-generated electricity, which includes hydropower in addition to solar and wind, will rise from 24 percent to 26 percent by the end of 2024. The percentage of coal-generated power will dip from 18 percent to 17 percent, and electricity from natural gas will drop from 38 percent to 37 percent.
Electricity from nuclear power plants will remain steady at 19 percent of the total U.S. power supply, the report says.
The Inflation Reduction Act includes substantial tax credits and incentives for individuals and small businesses to install solar panels and battery storage.
However, the decision last month by regulators in California to slash the incentive credits new solar customers get for the surplus energy they generate and sell back to the grid will hobble the residential solar market in the state. Up until now, California was the leading state in the country for rooftop solar, with more than 1.5 million homes, small businesses and other structures that took advantage of the incentives to install solar.
“The ill-conceived decision by California to gut the incentives for all new rooftop solar installations will unfortunately slow the state’s clean energy transition,” said Formuzis. “This could very well have a chilling effect in other states where residential solar programs are under threat from investor-owned utilities.”
For more than a decade, monopoly power companies, at the urging of the industry’s main trade and lobby group, the Edison Electric Institute, have waged a war against residential solar initiatives in states across the country over the growing threat these programs pose to utility profits.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.