There are alternatives to a continuing reliance on fossil fuels, large hydro, or industrial wind farms covering our mountain ridges – and that is to use less energy. That is the most shovel ready alternative, 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 using the framework of energy democracy. This means that power should not be generated at a plant thousands of miles away from where it will be used and that local communities should have control over their energy. 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.

When properly sited, solar and wind can be effectively utilized to generate clean and renewable energy; however, these projects must be placed in already developed areas and not in forests or other natural areas.

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.

Democratizing the Electricity System – A Vision for the 21st Century Grid