NAMEEmily Grubert | Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology
TITLE"Fossil electricity retirement deadlines for a just transition"
ABSTRACTDecarbonizing US electricity by 2035 only strands an estimated 15% of capacity-years, based on typical fuel- and technology-specific lifespans for fossil fuel-fired generators operable as of 2018. Setting explicit deadlines for closures can facilitate a just transition for workers and host communities by enabling advance planning for next steps. I use a generator-level model to demonstrate that based on historical age on retirement, and assuming that an asset retiring at or later than a typical lifespan is not stranded by policy, stranding by the proposed 2035 decarbonization target is low. Assets that reach a typical lifespan probably do not merit compensation for early closure. Nonetheless, retiring the fossil fuel fleet will have impacts on host communities and beyond. The fact that the generators already exist presents a major advantage in that we know where they are: policy can also define when closures will occur, enabling more explicit, community-grounded planning that can avoid some of the major deindustrialization harms observed in the coal transition to date and in historical events like the collapse of the iron and steel industry. Policy attention to distributional impacts, like concentration of stranded assets in poorer states, and efforts to avoid new construction of plants that will become stranded if built, will be important for the transition.
REFERENCEShttps://science.sciencemag.org/content/370/6521/1171BIOEmily Grubert is a civil engineer and environmental sociologist who studies how we can make better decisions about large infrastructure systems, particularly related to decarbonization of the US energy system. Grubert is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and, by courtesy, of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She holds a Ph.D. in Environment and Resources from Stanford.
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