Repeat after me: we don't need new coal or nuclear plants

This article by Joseph Romm for Salon explains “Why we never need to build another polluting power plant.”

That’s right, conservation and efficiency measures can help us save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet our energy needs without building any new coal-fired power plants or nuclear reactors.

The whole article is worth reading, but here’s a small excerpt:

America is the Saudi Arabia of energy waste. A 2007 report from the international consulting firm McKinsey and Co. found that improving energy efficiency in buildings, appliances and factories could offset almost all of the projected demand for electricity in 2030 and largely negate the need for new coal-fired power plants. McKinsey estimates that one-third of the U.S. greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 could come from electricity efficiency and be achieved at negative marginal costs. In short, the cost of the efficient equipment would quickly pay for itself in energy savings.

While a few states have energy-efficiency strategies, none matches what California has done. In the past three decades, electricity consumption per capita grew 60 percent in the rest of the nation, while it stayed flat in high-tech, fast-growing California. If all Americans had the same per capita electricity demand as Californians currently do, we would cut electricity consumption 40 percent. If the entire nation had California’s much cleaner electric grid, we would cut total U.S. global-warming pollution by more than a quarter without raising American electric bills. And if all of America adopted the same energy-efficiency policies that California is now putting in place, the country would never have to build another polluting power plant.

How did California do it? In part, a smart California Energy Commission has promoted strong building standards and the aggressive deployment of energy-efficient technologies and strategies — and has done so with support of both Democratic and Republican leadership over three decades.

There’s no good reason why the Iowa legislature and Governor Chet Culver could not cooperate to implement some of the successful regulations from California. Then we could convince the members of the Iowa Utilities Board that conservation would go a long way toward meeting our baseload needs.

Too many people believe in the false choice of “clean coal” or nuclear power.  

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