Contrary to "Common Wisdom," Fossil Fuels Are Not the Cheaper Route for Nation's Future; Groundbreaking Synapse Energy Economics Study Details Savings, New Jobs, Environmental & Health Benefits of Ending "Business As Usual" Reliance on Dirty Energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 16, 2011 – It is a myth that switching to safe,

renewable energy would mean an unreliable U.S. power supply that also is too
expensive to afford. That is the major conclusion of a new Synapse Energy
Economics report prepared for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute that
details a future with more energy efficiency and renewable energy and less
reliance on coal and nuclear power.

Titled "Toward a Sustainable Future for the U.S. Power Sector: Beyond
Business as Usual 2011" and available online at, the new Synapse/CSI
report outlines a realistic transition to a cleaner energy future that would
result in a net savings of $83 billion over the next 40 years. The Synapse
report also details other major benefits, including: the avoidance of tens
of thousands of premature deaths due to pollution; the creation of hundreds
of thousands of new jobs; sharp cuts in carbon pollution; and significant
cuts in water consumption for power production.

The new Synapse report findings for CSI are particularly significant in view
of the fact that a strong majority of Americans want the U.S. to make the
investments needed to be a clean energy leader on a global basis. More
than three in four Americans (77 percent) – including 65 percent of
Republicans, 75 percent of Independents, 88 percent of Democrats, and 56
percent of Tea Party members -- agree with the following statement: "The
U.S. needs to be a clean energy technology leader and it should invest in
the research and domestic manufacturing of wind, solar and energy efficiency
technologies." (For details on this November 3, 2011 CSI national opinion
survey, see

Key highlights of the new Synapse/CSI report include the following:

* Due in part to a significantly increased emphasis on energy efficiency,
power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2020 would fall 25 percent
below 2010 levels; by 2050, such pollution would be 81 percent below 2010
levels. Under status quo trends, CO2 emissions would grow 28 percent from
current levels by 2050.

* The steep health and environmental (including water use) impacts of
coal-fired electricity are dramatically reduced and, by 2050, eliminated
altogether when all such facilities are retired. For example, over 50,000
premature deaths are avoided relative to status quo trends linked to
pollution from coal-fired plants.

* The construction and operation of the new power plants in the first decade
would create roughly 3.1 million new job-years – the equivalent of 310,000
people employed for the entire decade.

* Natural gas use in 2050 would be reduced 28 percent from projected levels
for 2050.

* By retiring about one quarter of the existing fleet of nuclear power
reactors and not building any new ones, the risks associated with nuclear
power generation and the nuclear fuel cycle are reduced considerably.

Civil Society Institute President Pam Solo said: "U.S. policymakers and
others who assume that a safe, renewable energy future – including an end to
reliance on coal-fired electric power and a sharply reduced reliance on
nuclear power and natural gas – is impractical and too expensive for the
U.S. to achieve are wrong. The truth is that America can and should embrace
a workable and cost-effective future that is built on safe, renewable
energy. Not only is it feasible and less expensive to do so, but we really
have no other choice as a nation, given the concerns about coal emissions,
natural gas fracking,' and nuclear reactor safety."

Synapse Energy Economics President Bruce Biewald said: "The results of our
new analysis are very encouraging. We find that a transition to efficiency
and renewable energy for our electricity is likely to be less expensive than
the business-as-usual status quo approach. There are indications now that
the cost of replacing coal with clean energy is falling. The current and
projected price of coal has increased, and the price of photovoltaic systems
has fallen sharply since 2009, a result of unprecedented growth in this
sector globally. Further, the financial community is placing higher risk
premiums on technologies with carbon emissions, making renewable energy and
efficiency more attractive."


Based in Newton, MA., the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute
( is a think tank that serves as a
catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people,
and between communities, government and business that can help to improve
society. Since 2003, CSI has conducted more than 25 major national and
state-level surveys and reports on energy and auto issues, including vehicle
fuel-efficiency standards, consumer demand for hybrids/other highly-fuel
efficient vehicles, global warming and renewable energy. In addition to
being a co-convener of (, the Civil
Society Institute also is the parent organization of
( and the Hybrid Owners of America

Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. (
research, testimony, reports and regulatory support on energy, economic, and
environmental topics. Synapse has a professional staff of 22 with more than
300 years of combined experience in the electricity and natural gas
industries. Synapse assesses the implications of electricity and natural gas
industry planning, regulation and restructuring. Our work covers various
interrelated issues such as transmission planning, service reliability,
siting, fuel diversity, resource planning, financial and economic risks,
renewable energy potential and renewable portfolio standards, energy
efficiency, electricity modeling, portfolio management, customer service and
more. Synapse works for a wide range of clients throughout the United
States, including attorneys general, offices of consumer advocates, public
utility commissions, a variety of environmental groups, foundations, the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of
Justice, Federal Trade Commission, the National Association of Regulatory
Utility Commissioners, and others.

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