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Utilities Shifting Back to Fossil Fuels to Reduce Electricity Prices



(p. B1) KEADBY, England -- A wind farm here, along the River Trent, cranks out enough clean electricity to power as many as 57,000 homes. Monitored remotely, the windmills, 34 turbines each about 400 feet high, require little attention or maintenance and are expected to produce electricity for decades to come.

"They're very well behaved," said Sam Cunningham, the wind farm's manager, as she drove around the almost three-square-mile site.

The owner of the wind farm, the British electricity company SSE, has been betting big on turbines as well as other renewables for years, with multibillion-dollar investments that have made the utility the country's leading provider of clean power. In theory, last year's United Nations climate accord in Paris should have been a global validation of the company's business strategy.

But instead of doubling down, the utility is rethinking its energy mix, reconsidering plans for large wind farms and even restarting a mothballed power plant that runs on fossil fuel.

The moves reflect the existential debate faced by many major power companies, as they grapple with real-world energy economics and shifts in government policy. The calculus for fossil fuels can be more favorable at a time when energy prices are low and countries like Britain are rethinking subsidies on renewables to keep electricity prices down."



For the full story, see:

STANLEY REED. "Clean Power Muddied by Cheap Fuel." The New York Times (Sat., FEB. 20, 2016): B1 & B5.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 19, 2016 and has the title "In Britain, a Green Utility Company Sees Winds of Change.")






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