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We need efficiency, not coal-fired plants

ign to portray reduced coal-fired electric power as "crazy" deserves a closer look.

Driving people into a frenzy over reducing coal-fired power plants is not helpful. What might be useful is a cool, calm, analytical portrait of how much electric power we actually need, and how we can produce it.

Per-capita consumption of electric power varies widely. We individually can reduce how much we consume, simply by choosing more efficient lighting, heating, cooling and appliances.

The more efficient choices are not necessarily more expensive. In fact, efficient choices always result in a savings of money over time, as well as a reduction in the use of energy.

Examples of businesses and consumers saving money and saving energy can be found nearly everywhere.

The states using the most electricity per capita are Wyoming, Kentucky, the District of Columbia and North Dakota. The states with the lowest electricity use per capita include California, Hawaii, Rhode Island and New York.

Folks in Wyoming are using about four times the amount of electricity per person as the folks in California. The national average is about halfway between these two.

It makes sense for all of us to decide whether we want to continue to pay high utility bills or purchase more efficient light bulbs, refrigerators and air conditioners.

The states with the lowest use typically have public programs or local utilities that advise customers on how to save energy, and help them with special incentives.

Overall operating costs for the utilities usually stabilize due to the overall reduced demand and less need for new power plants and new fuel sources.

As a result of conservation programs by utilities, per-capita electric power use in California has not increased in 30 years.

So this becomes a win-win situation for all involved. Every residential customer, and every business, stands to gain substantially by reducing the use of electric power in cost-effective ways.

The group "Energy Efficient West Virginia" is working to help this happen here in West Virginia. All of us can do our part - and save money - by choosing the right appliances and lighting.

Mike Harman

St. Albans



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