News Types: Op-Eds

New York Times Cites University of Texas Full Cost of Electricity Report

In a Dec. 26, 2016 op-ed, The New York Times cited a report published that month by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin extensively. According to the report, which is titled titled “New U.S. Power Costs: by County, with Externalities,” natural gas and wind are the lowest-cost technology options for new electricity generation across much of the U.S. when cost, public health impacts and environmental effects are considered.

Other Media Coverage
Ralph K.M. Hauerwitz, “UT report: Wind, natural gas cheapest electricity if full cost tallied,” (December 8, 2016).

Ferit Ucar, “Groundbreaking Study Shows New Coal Plants are Uneconomic in 97 Percent of US Counties,” EDF Blogs (December 8, 2016).

David Spence, “In Energy Politics, Simple Wins, But Simple is Usually Wrong (The Huffington Post)

On April 14, 2016, published an op-ed by Professor David Spence on energy politics and fossil fuels. According to Professor Spence, “When it comes to fossil fuels, politicians have long kept things simple: Republicans tend to be for them, Democrats against them … But by lumping all fossil fuels together in this way, we resist an important truth: that a nationwide ban on fracking would almost certainly be bad for health and the environment.”

David Spence and David Adelman, “Texas officials claim victory over Clean Power Plan – at the expense of every Texan” (The Dallas Morning News, The Waco-Tribune Harold, The Star-Telegram)

The Supreme Court has halted implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the flagship climate change program for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. In an Op-Ed published by The Dallas Morning News, The Waco-Tribune Harold, and The Star-Telegram, Professor David Spence and Professor David Adelman point out that “Texas is a plaintiff in the case, so this is a big win for state officials, but it is a victory that will come at the expense of the health and welfare of every Texan.”

Wendy Wagner, “How Exxon Mobil ‘Bends’ Science to Cast Doubt on Climate Change” (New Republic)

In a move that is potentially transformative, the New York attorney general is investigating Exxon for financial fraud. In a November 10 story in the New Republic, Professor Wendy Wagner examines the claim that Exxon ‘bent’ science to cast doubt on climate change.

The company made public statements questioning the science of climate change in years past, even as its own in-house scientists informed company executives that precisely the opposite was the case. Put in simpler terms, the New York investigation is exploring whether the company lied to investors and consumers in order to place its own profits ahead of the public good.

But while the case focuses specifically on Exxon’s activities, its impact will be felt by many other corporations accused of misleading the public and investors. Read more.

David Spence, “Why America’s power grid needs natural gas now more than ever,” (Fortune Online)

David Spence, Professor of Law, Politics, and Regulation, and Ross Baldick, Professor in the University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, published a piece in Fortune Online on September 27 entitled “Why America’s power grid needs natural gas now more than ever.” Spence and Baldick argue that, as the Obama Administration finalizes its Clean Power Plan regulating carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, high efficiency, gas-fired generators will be an important source of reliable electricity generation. Natural gas is a reliable substitute for coal-fired power plants, the largest contributors to greenhouse gas pollution. Modern combined-cycle natural gas power plants produce only about half the carbon dioxide and small fractions of the other pollutants emitted by coal-fired power. The amount of electricity produced with non-polluting renewable power sources – wind and solar – is increasing, but because battery storage remains extremely expensive, renewables are not yet a cost effective substitute for natural gas or coal. Spence and Baldick write that efficient gas-fired power plants are an essential component of the nation’s long-term goal of shifting away from carbon intensive energy production.