There is an alternative to a continuing reliance on fossil fuels, on the one hand, and a reliance on large hydro, or industrial wind farms covering our mountain ridges, on the other – and that is to use less energy. That is the most shovel ready alternative, the least costly solution, and the one that will have the most benefit for local economies. According to West Virginia State University, Americans makeup 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy. By making systemic and personal lifestyle changes, this amount can be reduced significantly.
The electricity that is used by society should be generated locally and cleanly. This means that power should not be generated at a plant thousands of miles away from where it will be used. This will not only reduce the environmental degradation resulting from the construction of transmission lines, but it will also make electricity more affordable and benefit local economies. By keeping power generation local, thousands of long-term jobs will be created. Efficiency improvements made in homes and businesses have saved American consumers nearly $370 billion as of 2012 according to the World Resources Institute. Continuous progress in efficiency and systemic reductions in demand will help to allow the complete local generation of power.
Power generated locally must be done so without the use of fossil fuels or hydropower. Both of these resources perpetuate unacceptable environmental harm and human rights violations.