Image result for Short of ElectricityCheap and abundant energy has been a bedrock of the American economy for at least the last 100 years. We have enjoyed an abundance of
o coal
o natural gas
o oil that is refined into gasoline, heating oil and diesel
o plentiful electricity
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Hoover Dam projects demonstrated to the whole world how another of our plentiful resources, water, could be harnessed to create electricity while also supplying irrigation needs and treated water for everyday living needs. Electricity was one thing we did not need to worry about once hydroelectric plants were up and running and distribution lines were in place.
Now we need to worry. Why,
There are two reasons why production of electricity is being revisited. The first is ever increasing demand. The second is environmental concerns about how electricity is being produced.
Increased demand makes the news each time there is a brownout or blackout due to heat waves. There are so many air conditioners, computers and machines humming away across America, right along with lights and a myriad of other electrical appliances from microwave ovens to freezers, that electricity is in ever growing demand. Take electricity out of the picture, as in blackouts, and economic activity halts.
Environmental concerns about how electricity is produced are related to water and coal. The water flow required for hydroelectric dams can no longer be counted on. This is because the demand for water continues to grow even as the supply of usable water diminishes. Drought, overuse, irrigation and the depletion of aquifers are combining to force the release of lesser and lesser amounts of water through the dams.
Something on the order of 40% of our nation’s power plants are fueled by coal. The emissions have become environmentally unacceptable. The cost of controlling these emissions or of converting to natural gas goes up steadily. Further, because our nation’s production of natural gas is limited, any use of gas for production of electricity makes that much less gas available for other environmentally more desirable purposes such as the heating of homes and as an alternative to gasoline.
Short story: electricity produced by using water and coal was cheap and plentiful, helping to drive the expanding economy and greatly benefiting industrial, suburban and rural America. Our economy and life styles demand ever more electricity. But now we discover that coal emissions could kill us and that water needs to be conserved or even rationed. So much for cheap and plentiful electricity. Goodbye hydro lectric and coal fired power plants and hello alternative energy sources for production of electricity.
Thus begins the next debate: which alternative energy sources,

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