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Toward a Sustainable Future for the U.S. Power Sector: Beyond Business as Usual 2011
Geoff Keith, Bruce Biewald, Ezra Hausman, Kenji Takahashi, Tommy Vitolo, Tyler Comings and Patrick Knight

A “business as usual” strategy for the U.S. electric power industry, wherein the country continues to rely heavily on coal and other fossil fuels to meet its energy needs, is not tenable if we are to achieve substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades. This paper introduces a “Transition Scenario” in which the United States retires all of its coal plants and a quarter of its nuclear plants by 2050, moving instead toward a power system based on energy efficiency and renewable energy. The study shows that this transition scenario, in addition to achieving significant reductions in emissions of CO2 and other pollutants, ultimately costs society less than a “business as usual” strategy—even without considering the cost of carbon. BBAU 2011 projected that, over 40 years, the Transition Scenario would result in savings of $83 billion (present value) compared to the business as usual strategy.

Document Type:
Civil Society Institute