Press Release | August 24, 2017

Department of Energy’s Report Debunks Secretary Perry’s Claims but Continues to Push Coal

Washington, D.C. – The Southern Environmental Law Center released the following statement from Katie Ottenweller, Senior Attorney and leader of SELC’s Solar Initiative in response to the release of a long-awaited report from the Department of Energy on the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid. The report found the grid is more dependable than ever and renewables pose no threat to baseload power, but also made unsubstantiated claims boosting coal.

The report was requested by Secretary Perry in April in a memo that claimed regulatory burdens on “baseload” power resources (coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydroelectric), along with federal subsidies for renewables, could be creating problems for maintaining the reliability of the grid. But the report debunks these claims.

“The Trump Administration set out to develop a report that would be a first strike against renewable energy, and would support the fossil fuel industry, but the facts got in the way. The Department of Energy’s report confirms a basic truth about the benefits of clean energy sources like solar power that we in the Southeast have long known: our electric grid is more reliable than ever before because of renewables. Renewable energy is making our grid stronger, our nation safer, our electric bills cheaper and our communities in the Southeast healthier.

“Unfortunately, these facts didn’t stop the Trump Administration from attempting to skew the results in the 11th hour, including stripping the report of any mention of climate change and making unsubstantiated claims boosting coal. Even as the report concedes that having less coal and nuclear power has led to a more flexible and secure grid, Secretary Perry continues to sound the alarm, calling for a comprehensive strategy to prop up these aging, costly plants. Instead of bending over backward to appease the fossil fuel industry, the Trump Administration needs to listen to the facts and follow through with policies that continue our nation’s transition to homegrown clean energy – for the sake of our national security, consumers’ pocketbooks, our health, and our environment.”

To refute Secretary Perry’s controversial memo, SELC sent a letter ahead of the report along with 20 groups throughout the Southeast, urging the department to do a true analysis and sharing some of the facts about renewable energy and grid reliability. 

The report also underscores the importance and tangible benefits of clean energy investments in the Southeast:

Renewable energy strengthens our economy: Across the Southeast, solar jobs are growing – with over 20,000 jobs in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Alabama.

Renewable energy improves our national security: The U.S. military plans for 25 percent of the military’s energy production to come from renewables by 2025, and bases in Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina have all gone solar due to security benefits.

Renewable energy has bipartisan support: Republican state officials have long championed their states’ clean energy investments, including former South Carolina governor and current United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s praise of a landmark 2015 bill that opened up South Carolina to more solar power.


About The Southern Environmental Law Center:

The Southern Environmental Law Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With nine offices across the region (Charlottesville, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Richmond, VA), SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect the South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region.

Are you a reporter and would like more information? Please visit our press contact page for a full list of SELC’s press contacts.