May 11, 2016 - 5:00am

Energy Outlook: The Value of Diversity

Former Director, Communications and Strategy

Regardless of the size of your company’s energy bills, it’s important to understand what’s driving those rates – and which direction they’re headed next. Matt Letourneau, senior director of communications for the Institute for 21st Century Energy, joins us to discuss our nation’s energy supplies, why a diverse supply is important, and issues on the horizon that could impact on price and reliability of energy and goods and services. Why are so many states seeing increases in electricity prices? What kind of impact will the Clean Power Plan have on prices? Join us to find out. 



Matt Letourneau

Senior Director, Communications, Institute for 21st Century Energy






Select Excerpts:

01:16 Trula Tener: What is the makeup of our energy supply today?

01:19 Matt Letourneau: We are very fortunate in the United States to have a very diverse energy supply and we're really uniquely positioned. Right now in 2016, we're forecast to get about 33% of our electricity generation from natural gas, about 32% from coal, about 19% from nuclear energy, about 8% from renewables excluding hydropower, about 6% from hydropower. So what that means is we're not overly dependent on any one source of energy. And that's a good thing because if there happened to be shortages, if the market reacts in one way or the other, if prices rise or fall, we're not too dependent on any one thing and it allows us to really utilize the resources that are most available at the time.

02:08 TT: Would you say it's pretty diverse across the country or are there some areas where they don't have that luxury of diversity?

02:15 ML: Well, one of the challenges for us right now is infrastructure. We certainly have certain parts of the country that have certain types of energy, so we've seen a massive amount of shale, oil and gas primarily in the Northeast... Pennsylvania, Ohio, and then some in New York, which we're unfortunately we're not allowed to access. And then we also have some of that in Colorado and Texas and New Mexico and out west. We also have various oil and gas deposits of more conventional sources off our shore in the Gulf of Mexico. The current administration's policy is to not allow offshore drilling in the Atlantic or Pacific, so right now we're only harvesting oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico.

Renewable sources can be anywhere but it really depends on where the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. So you tend to see wind in the Great Plains states and places that have wide open spaces. And then you see solar in sunny places like Florida or Arizona. The challenge is, in those parts of the country that don't have those resources, how do you move them? And so we have an infrastructure in place, pipelines and other ways to move electricity around or move molecules around, move fuels around, but as our demand continues to increase, we're gonna have to figure out more and more ways to do that.

And unfortunately, we've encountered a, sort of a atmosphere in this country where nobody wants to see a lot of things built. For local opposition, you can call it 'NIMBY-ism' or we call it 'BANANA': Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. But just recently, we saw a pipeline in New York called the Constitution Pipeline be rejected by the State of New York. Of course, many of our listeners may remember the Keystone XL Pipeline, which was proposed over a six or seven-year period that would have brought oil down from Canada. Those types of projects are facing a lot of opposition and that's gonna make it harder and harder for us to get energy.




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About the Author

About the Author

Former Director, Communications and Strategy