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In a recent Conservation Corner, using nuclear power to generate electricity was shown to be both extremely dangerous and expensive. It is not the clean, safe and cheap source for electricity that it was touted to be. The only saving grace of nuclear power is that it does not have a large carbon footprint like a coal-fired electric generation plant.
Currently, scientists agree that our planet’s climate is changing and most agree that the change is due to the actions of humans. Pollutants expelled from coal-fired power plants greatly increase the levels of air pollution and add to our nation’s carbon footprint.
But, why even build new nuclear or coal-fired power plants when through conservation we can eliminate the need for more power production? More is not always the correct answer.
Let’s use the proposed nuclear power plant in Levy County, as an example. The initial estimated cost for this plant was 17 billion dollars. What if that money was instead funneled to a loan program for improving energy efficiency in one million households? You would not only improve energy efficiency but also save enough energy that you would no longer need a new power plant! The extra bonus is the jobs that would be created to service those one million households.
This is no pie in the sky scenario. This is already being done in South Carolina by the Central Electric Power Cooperative. By policy, the co-op views environmental protection and energy conservation as an important part of the co-op’s efforts. The co-op has already eliminated the need for a new 1.2 billion dollar coal-fired power plant.
The program is no government giveaway but instead works like a bank. The co-op administers the program and helps homeowners use the money to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes. The monthly savings in their electric bill is then split between the homeowner and the loan repayment plan. All the money is to be paid back within eight years. The goal is a 20% reduction in energy usage within 10 years and the creation of thousands of jobs.
Energy efficiency is the smartest and the most inexpensive energy source that we can find. Saving energy and at the same time creating jobs can only benefit us and our country. Currently 66% of our national energy usage is wasted. That is just dumb. But it is also a reason for optimism because there is so much opportunity for improvement.
This column is a project of Cedar Key’s Energy Advisory Panel, which welcomes first-person accounts of how individuals are conserving (or, even, aspiring to conserve) our community’s natural resources. Your submission may be made via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name and your phone number.