Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Moniz: Nobody predicted gas supplanting coal so quickly

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz told western governors in Jackson on Monday that nobody predicted how quickly low natural gas prices would upend the coal industry. Speaking at the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting, Moniz said the looming question for experts had been whether low gas prices would affect renewable energy industry — not coal. Proliferation of hydraulic fracturing has uncorked a surfeit of natural gas upsetting the traditional energy market’s fuel mix. “Are low natural gas prices going to drive out renewables?” Moniz said of the conventional thinking. “The facts are, [the energy industry sectors] low natural gas prices have actually hit hard are coal and nuclear.” Moreover, change came quickly. “No one predicted the speed we have seen,” he said. The tide won’t reverse, Moniz warned. “There is essentially an inevitability in this direction,” he said of the move toward cleaner and low-carbon fuels. Gov. Matt Mead asked whether the Department of Energy’s loans and grants were going toward renewables or fossil fuels. The remaining $40 billion authorized in the Loan Programs Office for the next five years is earmarked largely by legislation, Moniz said. About $8.5 billion is dedicated for fossil fuel research and only $4.5 billion — the smallest amount — for renewables and efficiency. Sixteen billion dollars are proposed for advanced technology vehicles manufacturing and $12 billion for nuclear research...more

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