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Clean energy doesn't have to be costly

While I have a deep appreciation for Alex Pavlak’s letter about the need for wise leadership in carbon free energy development (“Clean energy leadership requires wisdom,” Sept. 18), I feel his concern over the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs' 50 percent renewable power proposal can be assuaged by existing examples.

While the cost of energy is determined by much more than the mix of fuels that create it, there are places with comparatively priced energy and a larger renewable portfolio than Maryland. Power in both Latvia and Finland, where nearly 40 precent of the supply is renewable, costs $0.15/kWh and $0.18/kWh respectively in 2014. That’s slightly higher than Maryland, but a far cry from “2-3 times more” than our $0.13/kWh in that same year.

Further, studies on renewable grid feasibility, like the one Mr. Pavlak calls for, have already been conducted. The work of Mark Jacobson, a professor of engineering at Stanford, is one example. Experts like Mr. Jacobson believe renewables will be able to power the nation fully with no drop in reliability. Plus, grid level storage is starting to come of age, technologies for converting renewable energy to other fuels are emerging, and we can always lean on biomass and nuclear as we transition.

Thankfully, the risks and costs here are not as huge as Mr. Pavlak fears. Others have already shown that cleaner air, healthier communities and a stable climate need not require onerous energy prices. The very fact that privately-owned utilities across the country are voluntarily buying renewable power shows its financial and logistical assuredness.

Grant Samms, Chestertown

The writer is ShorePower Project Coordinator at the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College

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