Myths and Facts about Clean Electricity in the South

This paper identifies six myths about clean electricity in the southern U.S. These myths are either propagated by the public at-large, shared within the environmental advocacy culture, or spread imperceptibly between policymakers.  Using a widely accepted energy-economic modeling tool, we expose these myths as half-truths and the kind of conventional wisdom that constrains productive debate. In so doing, we identify new starting points for energy policy development. The six myths address:

  • alternatives to meet growing electricity demand,
  • the sufficiency of renewable resources,
  • impacts on electricity rates,
  • tradeoffs between energy efficiency and renewable power,
  • retirement of existing coal plants, and
  • impacts on water consumption.

We use the National Energy Modeling System to examine each of the myths.

This work surfaces the myths concealed in public perceptions and illustrates the positions of various stakeholders in this large U.S. region. It was funded by the Energy, Kresge, and Turner Foundations, and the paper, Myths and Facts about Clean Electricity in the South, was published in Energy Policy. It is also posted at the following website in the Working Paper series of the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. A powerpoint summarizing the paper was also presented at the Georgia Environmental Conference in Savannah in August, 2012.


  • Brown, Marilyn A., Etan Gumerman, Xiaojing Sun, Kenneth Sercy, and Gyungwon Kim. 2012. Myths and Facts about Clean Electricity in the U.S. South, Energy Policy 40: 231-241