Energy Essay, Research Paper
The rising cost of electricity and how it affects consumers in the Puget Sound. Puget sound receives it s energy from a number of different sources, namely, hydroelectric, fossil fuels and nuclear. Consumers in the Puget Sound have weathered the misery of massive price increases that have been passed on to them by the power consortiums. This is primarily due to, energy de-regulation in California, increased demand, increased profit margins by energy companies, drought and very effective lobbyists in Washington DC. The only winners in this energy crisis are the large power brokers like, Duke Energy, Enron, and Dynegy. Conservation is the key element of the current crisis that, we as consumers have direct control over. By conserving our electricity usage, decreasing heat in the winter, increasing the temperature in the summer, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and electing officials that have the best interest of the consumers and the environment in mind, we can we reduce our dependence on the power consortiums.
The Puget Sound receives 35 % of it s power from the following resources, Baker River Hydro Plant, White River Hydro Plant, Snoqualmie Falls Hydro plant, Electron hydro and seven oil and natural gas fired power plants. The Puget sound purchases the balance of their power from the following sources: Coal 33%, Natural Gas 23%, Hydro, 7%, Oil 2% and Nuclear 1%.
Puget sound energy users have been hit with tremendous increases due to variety of reasons, de-regulation in California, drought, increased demand, and lack of generating power plants built in the 1980 s and 90 s. The energy crisis has effected the Puget Sound in all areas of our economy, groceries, driving our cars and potential blackout. The single biggest impact the energy crisis has had on our economy is the thousands of jobs that have been lost due to this energy crisis. BPA (Bonneyville Power Association) wants Aluminum plants in the state of Washington to close for two years, at a cost of 7000 jobs and families. The Puget Sound region business association agrees that for every 50% rate increase, there will be 10,000 jobs lost and families effected.
Corporate greed is by far the most troubling aspect of the energy crisis. Power companies are able to withhold power by taking power plants off line for routine maintenance during the peak times of the year. During the winter of 2000/2001 we have paid as much as $500.00 per megawatt hour. (1 megawatt provides power to 750 homes) that is more that 15 times to normal. The power companies argued that the charges were necessary because supply was tight, demand was high and older less efficient power plants were pressed into service. On October first of this year BPA (Bonneyville Power Administration) will increase electricity rates by 46%. This is on top of the 26% & 28% increases that have already been passed on to us. While the power consortiums were coming up with all the excuses why the power was going up, their profit margins were going through the roof. Enron made a net profit of $1,266,000,000.00, Duke Energy Made a net profit of $3,278,000,000.00, Dynegy made a net profit of $500,000,000.00. The numbers are staggering when you realize that their profit margins increased between 300% & 400% over the previous years. The president and vice president have both spoken out against price caps because it will do nothing to create more power supply, yet they have done nothing to ease the burden on the public. The president and vice president should be imposing price caps so the economy will not fall further into a recession. It may be hard for both the President and the Vice President to impose price caps. The above mentioned power companies were some of the largest contributors to their elections and the Republican Party.
The one area of the power crisis that we have control over is conservation. Conservation is the key thing we can to help control price down in the Puget Sound. By using less energy we rely less on the out of state power brokers. One of the biggest ways is time of day usage. (See chart) By shifting some electricity use to the “off-peak” (and less expensive) times of day through Personal Energy Management, you’ll reduce the overall demand of the region and the need to build new power plants-and your monthly energy bill. There are numerous ways to control the power that we use in our homes. We can change the way we heat our homes. If we turn down the heat in the winter and turn up the cooling we can save electricity with very little change in out lifestyles.
If we follow the tips I will be telling you about, we have the best chance to control out own energy destiny.
+ Create a warm room.
+ Select an appropriate temperature for your house.
+ Pay attention to moisture levels.
+ Wrap your water heaters.
+ Improve insulation.
+ Use efficient lighting.
+ Reduce leaks around the windows.
+ Reduce leaks around ceilings, floors and walls.
+ Inspect your ductwork to insure there are no leaks.
+ Use energy efficient appliances.
+ Proper maintenance on your heating system.
+ Use extra blankets.
By following all of the suggestions that have been mentioned we will have great success in controlling our electricity usage and lessen our demand on power from the out of state power brokers.
Our future electricity needs demand that explore newer and better sources of energy that are both cost-effective and friendly to the environment. We need to develop renewable energy resources such as Wind, Solar (Photovoltaic), Geothermal, PSolar Thermal, and Biomass. The projected cost of the alternative power I spoke about is as follows.
Technology 1980 1988 2000 2030
(1988 cents per kilowatt-hour)
Wind 322 8 5 3
Geothermal 4 4 4 3
Photovoltaic 339 30 10 4
Solar Thermal trough with gas assistance parabolic/central receiver 24 3857 8416 658 –65
Biomass8 5 5 — —
Wind power is clean. Renewable. Good for the air. Good for the Earth. We have an incredible opportunity to create a cleaner environmental future for our children, our communities and ourselves. It’s wind power – and it’s up to us! Today, the burning of fossil fuels that contributes to acid rain and snow, climate change, urban smog, and regional haze produces 94 percent of Colorado s electricity. Wind power, in contrast, produces no air pollution. It does not deplete our natural resources. No land must be strip-mined to extract it. It does not threaten the earth’s climate. Photovoltaics are also making inroads as supplementary power for utility customers already served by the grid. Currently costly compared to most conventional choices for grid power, Photovoltaics is still a very small part of the energy make-up of any country. However, more and more individuals, companies, and communities choose PV for reasons other than cost: because of a desire to develop a clean, sustainable energy source, interest in a clean back-up power source, a need for placing power generation right at the source with no fuel, noise or moving parts; and an attraction to a power technology that can be built right into building roofs, facades, canopies and windows. The Pacific Northwest has the potential to generate up to 11,000 megawatts of electricity from geothermal power. Although estimates of available resources are uncertain until exploratory work is done, the Northwest Power Planning Council has identified eleven specific areas where it expects there are about 2,000 MW developable that s enough power to serve over 1.3 million homes. Geothermal areas in the western United States are usually found where there has been relatively recent volcanic activity. The most promising sites in the Northwest are in the basin and range country of southeastern Oregon, and along the Cascades in Oregon, Washington and northern California. Virtually all of the geothermal electric generation developed in the U.S. so far has been in California, Nevada and Utah. Low-temperature geothermal district heating has been used for decades in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho, and the Big Island of Hawaii generates 25% of its power from geothermal. As you can see by using inventive and newer sources of energy we can produce clean renewable source of energy that are safe to the environment.
Greed, drought and man, brought on the energy crisis that we are in today. The only way we are going to work our way through the energy crisis is to, conserve, develop newer sources of energy that are friendly to the environment and elect government officials that have the best interest of the people in mind.