Think of all the things that the discovery of fire meant for the caveman:
- No more early bedtimes just because the sun went down!
- No more raw meat!
- No more cold caves in the wintertime!
But seriously, from the discovery of fire to the invention of the light bulb, turning energy into power has produced great things for the human race. In the last century and a half in particular, we have been able to harness energy in new and innovative ways.
Take the auto industry, for example. Did you know that New York City had a fleet of electric taxis… in the 1890s? In fact, in America at the turn of the 20th century you could buy cars that ran on gas, steam or electric batteries. The electric versions outsold their competitors—even with a driving range of less than 20 miles and top speeds of about 15 miles per hour. Read more »
In conversation about fighting global poverty, energy rarely comes up as part of the problem or the solution. The fact is, however, that half the world’s population has no access to modern energy, and 1.5 billion people (22 percent of the global population) do not have any electricity. Lack of access to electricity deprives impoverished people of the ability to meet their basic human needs, such as access to fresh foods, lighting, and heating / cooling at home.
In 2011, almost three billion people still cook with biomass (wood and plants burner as fuel) and coal. These traditional methods require women and children to collect fuel and then work over a cooking stove that produces lots of smoke. In total, smoke from traditional cooking methods kills 1.4 million people each year—that’s 50 percent more deaths than those caused by malaria. Read more »
Without electricity, you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Your computer or your mobile device, the Internet, and a broadband connection all wouldn’t be possible without electricity.
Yet electricity so much a part of our lives that – like the air we breathe -- we don’t even notice it’s everywhere. And, like oxygen, we may only realize how much we need it when we don’t have enough.
Welcome to the Affordability Matters blog where we’ll take a look at how much we’ve come to depend on affordable and reliable electricity and consider some threats to this resource.
What sorts of conversations can you expect to find here? Read more »
By Jay Holmquist | New federal regulations will have far-reaching impacts on the electric industry, and consumers, in the years ahead. There will be at least five major rules that will have a significant impact on the cost of generating electricity with our nation’s coal resources.
The EPA continues to work on rules to tighten the air quality standards for certain air pollutants. We expect to see EPA’s proposal regulating emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) from power plants sometime this year. Also expected are EPA’s proposed regulations to determine whether existing power plants will need to retrofit their cooling systems with cooling towers to minimize “entrainment and entrapment” of fish and other organisms in water intake structures. Read more »
By Kent Singer | Colorado’s electric cooperatives work hard every day to keep your electricity bill as low as possible. This is a daunting task given the ever-increasing array of regulations that apply to the electric power industry. One challenge we face as a co-op is building transmission lines that are necessary to provide you, our member-owners, with electricity.
Colorado’s electric cooperatives depend on a complex system to deliver affordable and reliable power. For the most part, the electricity you need to light your homes and power your businesses comes from large power plants that are located many miles away.
Because of that, we need a robust system of transmission and distribution lines to meet your power needs today and into the near future. Additional high-capacity transmission lines are also needed if Colorado is to take advantage of its abundant renewable resources. Read more »
By Shawn Taylor | As Executive Director of the Wyoming Rural Electric Association, I pay a lot of attention to politics and to elected officials’ positions are on those various issues. It’s important to know what is happening in the state and country that could impact our industry specifically and our membership as a whole.
As I learn more about the Obama administration’s proposed carbon cap-and-trade program I am concerned about the expense the American people are being asked to shoulder under this proposal with little promise to positively impact the environment. Read more »
By Perry Stambaugh | The cost of electricity hinges on several things — availability, prices of power plant fuels and materials and the amount of power consumers demand. Now a slew of volatile federal rulemaking has hit power producers.
Perhaps the most pressing challenge facing electric utilities involves U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollutants under the federal Clean Air Act. On January 2, the EPA began restricting the amount of greenhouse gases that may be emitted by fossil fuel-burning power plants and other stationary industrial sources.
This action will significantly impact electricity production. Fossil fuels like coal and natural gas fuel 70 % of America’s electricity generation. Since electric co-ops are more dependent on coal than investor-owned utilities and municipal electric systems, the end result will be higher electric bills. Read more »
By Jay Holmquist | As I mentioned in my earlier post titled, “Federal Regulations Threaten Reliable Electricity” there are several recent studies which highlight the negative impact federal regulations will have on reliable affordable energy.
One study notes that if it was unlikely there would be a price on carbon or climate regulations in the future, perhaps a small number of the coal plants slated for retirement by 2020 would keep operating.
However, this ICF International study suggests that efforts to eliminate EPA’s climate regulations will make little difference for the future of many coal plants. Legislation blocking the EPA climate regulations just extends the period of uncertainty and coal plant owners will still factor uncertainty about greenhouse gases into their decisions. Read more »
Here's a quick recap of interesting electricity news from the week:
- Wildfires in Arizona threaten power lines in New Mexico
- Boulder, CO, residents mull over option to pay more to get their electricity from wind
- Report on new EPA regulations for coal plants show net-negative impacts on U.S. economy
- Boulder, CO, to install stations for charging electric vehicles (VIDEO)
The first two sentences of an article published last week in the Chicago Tribune say it all:
“Consumers could see their electricity bills jump an estimated 40 to 60 percent in the next few years. The reason: Pending environmental regulations will make coal-fired generating plants, which produce about half the nation's electricity, more expensive to operate.”