Energy Department touts new study as reason to continue using coal

Energy Department touts new study as reason to continue using coal
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The Department of Energy (DOE) is touting a new study as proof that coal use is key in order to keep  houses lit and offices warm during major storm events.

An analysis from DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory found that coal energy was the biggest asset to a reliable energy grid during the "bomb cyclone" that hit a number of East Coast states between December and January.

During the two-week cold snap that affected cities from the Midwest to New England, coal was the top energy provider, the study found.

A statement from DOE's Office of Fossil Energy sent Tuesday said the findings indicate "that continued retirement of fossil fuel power plants could have an adverse impact on the nation’s ability to meet power generation needs during future severe weather events."

"Coal was the most resilient form of power generation during the event and that removing coal from the energy mix would worsen threats to the electrical grid’s dependability during future severe weather events,” Peter Balash, a senior economist at DOE, said of the findings in a statement.


Reliance on coal power has long been a debate within the energy industry. The Trump administration has touted the importance of coal for national security and the economy.

This is not the first time the administration has pointed to the "bomb cyclone" as to why the country needs coal energy for electric grid resilience.

Speaking on a panel of energy experts in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in January, Bruce Walker, an assistant secretary at DOE, emphasized the importance of energy diversity to energy security, especially in times of freezing temperatures.

While the national electric grid fared well during the most recent storm, Walker said at the hearing: "The question isn't whether or not we could get rid of coal. The question is should we get rid of coal?" 

He added that he doesn't think the country should.

The question of whether the energy grid would be strong enough with fewer fossil fuel sources is especially timely as a number of cities are opting for lower or zero carbon footprints.