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.