The idea that we need a minimum number of traditional fossil-fuel power plants to meet our nation’s minimum electricity needs – a system called “baseload power” – is becoming increasingly obsolete. The electricity system developed during the last half of the 20th century relied on large, centralized coal-fired, nuclear, and hydroelectric plants to supply cheap and reliable power to local regions.
A clean energy system that offers significant economic, health, and environmental benefits is already emerging. In “Always On: Reliable electricity in an age of coal plant retirement,” the Izaak Walton League and Fresh Energy explain market forces that caused traditional baseload electricity sources to have less value in the 21st-century electricity system. The report demonstrates how current energy market forces are paving the way for cleaner, more efficient ways to meet our basic electricity needs.