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  • How Clean Is Your Energy?

    Clean energy and “going green” is quite the trend nowadays. Yet, few people actually know how their electricity is generated. To educate the average electricity consumer, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an interactive electricity power profiler that will:

    • Determine your power grid region based on your ZIP code and electric utility.
    • Compare the fuel mix (coal, nuclear, gas, or hydro) and air emissions rates of the electricity in your region to the national average.
    • Determine the air emissions impacts of electricity use in your home or business.

    In addition, the EPA provides useful tips for conserving energy and reducing electricity bills at home and in the office. And if you really want to make a difference, you can buy green power, power generated from renewable energy sources, for your home or small business. One interesting piece of information to note: nuclear energy isn’t on the list of available green power even though it provides the United States with 20% of its electricity and more than 70% of its emissions free power.

    In fact, in some parts of the country, not necessarily where the plants are located, nuclear energy provides a higher share. When you start plugging in zip codes, you quickly find out that towns large and small across the country heavily rely on nuclear energy. Take a place like Quakertown, Pennsylvania for example; nuclear energy provides 38% of the town’s electricity, almost twice the national average. Then there are states like Wyoming and Utah that are nowhere near nuclear power plants but still receive 4% of their electricity from nuclear.  And then there’s states like Indiana that have no nuclear power plants in their state but cities like Indianapolis get 23% of its electricity by nuclear.

    Washington, D.C., is another place that doesn’t have a nuclear plant for miles but also has 38% of its electricity coming from nuclear, according to EPA. By the way, the New York City subway system, the city’s largest consumer of energy, is powered by New York’s Indian Point reactor.

    Don’t feel bad if you had no idea how much electricity is provided by nuclear in your hometown; at least you’re not vehemently and publicly opposed to it, like some of our policymakers. Congressman Ed Markey has consistently questioned nuclear energy and said that Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership should be named the “Good for Nothing Energy Program.” Clever. In any event, his 7th district of Massachusetts receives 28% of its electricity from nuclear. The Congressman probably washes his laundry with nukes and doesn’t even know it.

    Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had a change of heart when it came to nuclear: “The technology has changed, and I bring a more open mind to that subject now.” The technology hasn’t changed. It was safe and remains safe. You know what else hasn’t changed? The fact is that her district, which includes San Francisco, receives 14% of its electricity from nuclear.

    And there’s the Man who invented climate change himself, Al Gore. Despite rumors that Gore placed his infant son in a rocket to escape the dying planet, word is that he still lives in Nashville, Tennessee. And aside from Gore’s $30,000-a-year utility bill that consumes more electricity than a small town, at least 20% of it comes from nuclear power so we can be thankful for that.

    But the award to biggest hypocrite belongs to our good friends from Nevada who never get tired of telling the rest of us that they don’t want our nuclear waste. Guess what? It is their nuclear waste too! While they’ve been blocking the opening of Yucca Mountain, 21% of the electricity used to light up the Las Vegas strip is nuclear. Just when I thought I couldn’t love Vegas any more.

    The EPA’s power profiler is a good education tool and a nice eye opener for consumers. Consumers may be surprised when they see how much of their electricity comes from nuclear and how little comes from renewable energy sources.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to How Clean Is Your Energy?

    1. Nicole, Sacramento, says:

      This article was quite an eye-opener for me. I had no idea that there was such a strong dependence on nuclear energy, or that the Heritage Foundation had such witty writers. At any rate, I think it is ridiculous when politicians preach the need to completely stop using nuclear energy and oil, when clearly they are vital tools for the time being. Though I consider myself an idealist, I also get irritated when politicians think that their optimistic (and unrealistic) words are all it is going to take.

      Great blog.

    2. Donald Pay, Wisconsi says:

      My utility allows me to enroll in a program to increase the renewable portfolio (mostly wind) by paying a slightly higher price. Many people in my area prefer to pay the higher price than have dirty coal plants or nuclear plants providing their electricity.

    3. Madeline, Maryland says:

      Most Americans have no clue about what type of power plant is producing electricity on the other side of the outlet! Over 20% of the nation's electricity is nuclear, and these plants have the highest capacity factor (actual output/potential output) over 91% in 2007, higher availability factor (time available/total time) and produced a total of 806 BILLION kilowatt hours! (See the Energy Information Agency site http://www.eia.doe.gov for all the data for all plants, all years, nuclear, coal etc.)

      Nuclear power does not emit greenhouse gases or pollute. The entire amount of nuclear fuel used to date (including the nuclear submarine fuel)would only take one football stadium, filled 10 feet high, and every atom is contained. Compare that to the amount of ash and crap (SOx NOx and carbon monoxide, C02) coming from a coal plant's stack or furnace. Even with "clean coal technology" (an oximoronic name!) coal plants would STILL produce tons of ash, flue gases, mercury, and even more radioactivity releases (from radioactive Radon and other naturally occuring isotopes in the coal) than would EVER be allowed to be released by a nuclear power plant, even during a severe accident. Even the TMI accident released less fission product releases/contamination to the environment than the amount NORMALLY emitted from a COAL fired power plant in a week! If coal plants had to be licensed using the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's requirements for radioactive releases, EVERY COAL PLANT IN THE US would be shut down immediately. Compare the EIA coal plant flue gas emissions data with the NRC's regulations, at http://www.nrc.gov. Double standard, huh?

      And HOW do you think the US will get to the "HYDROGEN ECONOMY" for replacing gasoline and diesel with hydrogen cars? Hydrogen from fossile fuels? NO. The only way to do it is with high temperature (helium gas-cooled) reactors! See http://nuclear.energy.gov/NHI/neNHI.html and the details about the gas reactor research: http://nuclear.inl.gov/gen4/vhtr.shtml.

      The US Dept. of Energy is doing the basic R&D for these high temperature gas-cooled reactors with a "shoestring" budget, but the Japanese and Chinese have already built their new gas reactors (research/testing). The French and yes, even S. Africa are ahead of the U.S. program!!

      The current US reactor designs only use about 3% of the total uranium fuel available in the fuel pellets. Recycling fuel (like France, G. Britain, Japan) would allow the US to not only use the uranium fuel more effectively, it would allow the US to burn the transuranic isotopes (Pu, Np, Am, etc.), produce more power, and significantly reduce the toxicity of the used fuel, and the space needed for permanent storage in a repository (Yucca Mountain). This recycling has allowed France to have 80% of its electricity to be produced by nuclear plants, with 1/3 of the fuel coming from recycled/reprocessed used fuel. This means they do not have to mine uranium ore. The French and British have recycled used nuclear fuel now for 30 years, and the French put all the fission products in high-tech glass logs to isolate the "nasty stuff" isotopes.

      President Jimmy Carter said "no" to plutonium and fuel reprocessing, stating that the world would follow the US example. Did that work? Of course not. We have the technology to recycle used nuclear fuel without creating weapons proliferation problems already. So why not use it and collaborate with the French, British, Japanese, etc., under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (DOE's program to recycle fuel)?

      Why is the U.S. public uninformed and so gun-ho on renewal energy? Why don't they know that NUCLEAR POWER is GREEN, no carbon emission, clean and safe energy?

      Simple–stupid Democrats and "luddites" want you to pay taxes and waste it on their "pet projects" such as wind, geothermal, renewables, solar, which have been studied, implemented and failed for the past 30 years…Remember 1973-77 and the gas crisis?? These folks want you to believe that these pet technologies will be able to handle the increasing demand, and REPLACE coal and nuclear. They say there has been no US energy policy. Incorrect–look at the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Even President Clinton's energy plan had nuclear for the "climate change initiative".

      Do you want out-of-touch Democrats, liberals, and the luddites taking your hard earned money and wasting it on what hasn't worked and will have to be substidized indefinitely? Or would you rather have clean, proven reliable nuclear power that has a cost LESS than oil, natural gas plants, and about equal to coal plants, INCLUDING the costs of construction, maintenance, fuel, spent fuel storage, waste repository fees, and dismantling?

      Just look at the independent information and data at http://www.eia.doe.gov and the International Energy Agency: http://www.iea.org and Nuclear Energy Agency: http://www.oecdnea.org

      The choice is clear –NUCLEAR

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