BY SHARON MARTIN
In 1935, Franklin Roosevelt did Americans a remarkable service when he signed the executive order that created the Rural Electrification Administration.
Because of rural electricity, my chickens and my family have remained comfortable and safe during this week of snow and frigid temperatures. I love the economy and common sense of rural electric coops, but I am dismayed by the stance of cooperative leaders toward clean energy.
I read the REC magazines from two states, New Mexico and Oklahoma. In several recent editions of both magazines executives rail against government regulations, especially those involving the Clean Air Act. They threaten us with the specter of higher electric bills and closing power plants.
What about the cost of doing nothing to curb greenhouse emissions? There is more to the cost of electricity than just one’s electric bill. Recent weather patterns should convince us of this. Instead of crying that our bill will be higher if we preserve the earth’s atmosphere, we can take steps to limit our usage. We don’t have to give up hot showers and cozy dens, but we do have to consider how we use power.
We can start with reviewing the devices in our home that are always on. According to the Electric Power Research Institute, the average home in 1980 contained three always-on devices. Now, the average is thirty such devices – battery chargers, cable boxes, computer printers, phone chargers. Even that digital picture frame you got for Christmas contributes to the load on our power plants.
In Forbes magazine online, Oliver J. Chiang wrote that if every house in the United States had an always-on digital picture frame, it would take five power plants alone to keep them running. So, look around. What can we unplug? Where can we conserve?
We Americans are smart enough to figure out how to keep our creature comforts without sacrificing the planet. We must do what it takes to keep the power on and to keep the air clean. We owe it to our children and theirs. We might have to close inefficient, dirty plants. We will have to invest in clean energy and technology.
And if that means we pay a few more cents for clean electricity, so be it. What is a future worth?
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer