HOUSTON - In a speech at the Total Energy USA conference yesterday, Exelon Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Christopher Gould said the most efficient way for the nation to pursue its sustainable energy goals is to let the market work.
"There are many theories about how best to implement an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and nearly as many public policies aimed at achieving that goal," Gould said. "But from our perspective, there is one way to strike the right balance of all available energy options that is most efficient and most cost-effective: well-functioning competitive electricity markets."
Gould said competitive energy markets allow the most affordable sustainable energy solutions to rise to the top. The result is a lowest-cost energy portfolio that benefits customers, communities and shareholders alike.
"An all-of-the-above approach should be agnostic to energy resource type or technology," Gould said. "It should evaluate all resources dispassionately and on equal footing, balancing their economic, environmental and social costs and benefits. It should consider all available energy options, but not include them all by default."
He also argued that policies favoring certain energy resources or technologies over others are inefficient and misguided, and can have unintended consequences on consumers and the environment.
"Subsidies and incentives that promote less reliable energy sources over more reliable ones can weaken the electric grid and impose unforeseen costs to ensure reliability," he said. "They also can stifle innovation because they reduce the incentive for competitors to improve their performance and bring new and better products to market."
Gould expressed optimism that the nation can achieve its energy and sustainability goals. At the same time, he struck a realistic tone in acknowledging the challenges facing the energy industry.
"A sustainable energy future is attainable, and all-of-the-above, at least conceptually, is the right policy to get us there," Gould said. "But we still have a steep hill to climb in terms of addressing environmental concerns and hardening our infrastructure to maintain reliability for future generations, all while keeping costs down for the consumer."
Gould addressed an audience of approximately 200 energy industry professionals and major energy users in a plenary session at the Total Energy USA conference. The annual forum explores current challenges across energy sectors and the technological and business opportunities they present.