Energy Dept. invokes 'revolution' in push for clean energy

The Obama administration painted a pretty picture Friday of what the U.S. would look like if a clean energy "revolution" took hold. There's just one big problem: the low cost of natural gas.

Clean energy technologies "are already making a big impact and are easily visible: wind towers dot the landscape, solar panels sprout on rooftops, LED [light bulbs] are on every hardware shelf, and the latest [electric car] models can be seen on many neighborhood streets," the Energy Department said in a report released Friday called "Revolution Now," showing how renewables are becoming cost competitive with fossil fuels.

But the fact is, many utilities and related companies have been investing in their natural gas hardware, with new gas-fired power plants and pipelines to supply them. The Energy Department's revolution report says solar is becoming more cost competitive with natural gas and coal. But the resources are not quite there yet.

In addition, wind and solar are not being counted as baseload power facilities, in which power can be produced 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with minimal interruption. Electric storage devices, such as big batteries, are seen as the key to make renewables baseload resources. But the devices are expensive and are not widely deployed without mandates and subsidies.

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