NEW YORK, June 1 Shifting more U.S. energyproduction to renewable sources such as wind and solar power isdoable but will require greater use of natural gas andovercoming opposition to building pipelines, a senior executiveof a U.S. utility said on Thursday.
Consolidated Edison Inc no longer defaults to thetraditional utility solution of building more infrastructure tomeet growing demand for power, said Craig Ivey, president of thecompany unit serving New York City and nearby suburbs.
Con Edison believes in clean, low-carbon energy, but abalance must be found to satisfy environmental goals, he told anaudience of New York real estate brokers.
Boosting the production of wind, solar and other alternativesources to meet a goal of generating half of New York’s energyneeds by 2030 cannot be done without natural gas, Ivey said.
“It is simply not possible to provide all the energy we needfor our residents and businesses with wind, solar, batterystorage and other alternative methods,” Ivey said in a speech tothe Real Estate Board of New York.
Con Edison would need tens of billions of dollars intransmission and distribution system upgrades beyond the levelsneeded to meet the state’s Clean Energy Standard, Ivey said.
The company has reduced its carbon footprint since 2005 by48 percent and in the past six years, 6,600 large buildings inNew York City have converted to natural gas.
A debate has simmered in New York and New England aboutwhether more pipelines are needed to enable natural gas to bethe bridge fuel from coal and oil-fired power plants to cleanerrenewable sources like wind and solar.
Environmentalists and New York state have taken the positionthat new pipelines, like Williams Cos Inc’s proposedConstitution gas pipe from Pennsylvania to New York, are notneeded. They would invest more in renewables and energyefficiency.
The gas industry argues that more plants are needed toreplace retiring coal and nuclear plants, such as Indian Pointjust north of New York City, before more wind and solar projectscan be built. Indian Point will close in 2020 and 2021.(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by ScottDiSavino; Editing by Daniel Bases and Peter Cooney)