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Report from Department Energy supports coal use in times of crisis
April 11, 2018

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory released a report that supports the use of coal-powered energy in times of crisis such as major winter storms.

The analysis found that coal energy was the biggest asset to a reliable energy grid during the "bomb cyclone" that hit a number of East Coast states between December and January.

A statement from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy said the findings indicate “that continued retirement of fossil fuel power plants could have an adverse impact on the nation’s ability to meet power generation needs during future severe weather events.”

“Coal was the most resilient form of power generation during the event and that removing coal from the energy mix would worsen threats to the electrical grid’s dependability during future severe weather events,” Peter Balash, a senior economist at DOE, said of the findings in a statement.

Reliance on coal power has long been a debate within the energy industry. The Trump administration has touted the importance of coal for national security and the economy.

The Hill reported that this is not the first time the administration has pointed to the "bomb cyclone" as to why the country needs coal energy for electric grid resilience.

Speaking on a panel of energy experts in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in January, Bruce Walker, an assistant secretary at DOE, emphasized the importance of energy diversity to energy security, especially in times of freezing temperatures.

While the national electric grid fared well during the most recent storm, Walker said at the hearing: “The question isn’t whether or not we could get rid of coal. The question is should we get rid of coal?”

The question of whether the energy grid would be strong enough with fewer fossil fuel sources is especially timely as a number of cities are opting for lower or zero carbon footprints.