After an S&P Global Market Intelligence investigative team uncovered the powerful incentives to build natural gas-fired power plants in the U.S., the Energy Evolution podcast interviewed some of the "Overpowered" series' sources and authors to follow-up on why utilities are adding gas generation despite flat demand and some states' efforts to adopt more renewable energy.
New gas plants help lower the country's carbon footprint by replacing older coal plants while taking advantage of cheap natural gas prices, but they also may set consumers up to lose money on stranded assets or commit them to emitting more CO2 than what experts say is needed to avert the worst effects of climate change.
Overpowered concludes that companies have built too many natural gas plants in the U.S., and S&P Global Market Intelligence Senior Editor Richard Martin explained why.
"It's really a combination of factors including regulatory structures that reward utilities for building new infrastructure, whether it's really needed or not, historically low prices for natural gas, overburdened regulators who often lack the resources and the expertise [to] push back against utilities' ambitious building plans, pliant state legislators who are accustomed to generous financial support from big utilities, and electricity demand forecasts that have been way higher than actual demand," Martin, who led the investigation, said in the podcast.
Energy Evolution also talked to sources from the Overpowered series about why the PJM Interconnection — the country's largest market for electric power — may continue to over-procure gas generation capacity, how Virginia state officials are starting to push back against Dominion Energy Inc.'s electricity demand forecasts, and what the Oxnard, Calif., City Council is doing to acquire more power from renewable resources after rejecting the Puente Power Project proposed by NRG Energy Inc. and Edison International utility Southern California Edison Co.
You can read all five parts of the Overpowered series here.